Stockport, Manchester: Police Question Patients In Hunt For Possible Hospital Poison Murderer: UPDATED

17 Jul

Video: Hospital Deaths: Security Increased 

Eleven patients who survived the effects of tampered medication are to be interviewed by police investigating the deaths of three people.

Tracey Elizabeth Arden, 44, a 71-year-old man and a 84-year-old man died following the deliberate contamination of saline solution at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, Greater Manchester.

Insulin was found in a batch of 36 saline ampoules in a hospital storeroom close to Ward A1 after a nurse reported a higher than normal number of patients on her ward with unexplained low blood sugar levels.

The alarm was raised on Tuesday but multiple sclerosis sufferer Ms Arden, from Stockport, died on July 7.

The two male victims, who both had serious health problems, died this week.

Increased security measures have been put in place at the hospital to protect patients currently receiving treatment there.

Detectives believe the insulin was deliberately injected into the saline containers which were used by at least two wards but they say the deaths remain unexplained as they await post-mortem results.

A police source said: “We are no longer treating the tampered medication as a sole contaminated batch because we cannot be sure that this was the only incident of its kind.

“We will be interviewing all those who became ill from the contaminated saline to find out if they can shed any light on who is responsible.”

Ms Arden’s brother Gary said his sister had been an “everyday, fun-loving, smiling mother of two” before she became ill 12 years ago.

Mr Arden said he hoped the investigation finds “Tracey is nothing to do with this” and that it is resolved quickly “so that we can then have the funeral for Tracey and say goodbye to her”.

But he added: “I’m never going to blame the NHS as an institution for what may or may not be the actions of a random person with their own agenda or thoughts.

“So we’ve not put our minds on to that as a family, we’ve got enough to deal with grieving for Tracey’s loss.”

Security has been stepped up as detectives interview doctors, nurses, porters, patients and visitors.

Police have suggested the hospital puts measures in place to search everyone arriving at and leaving the premises.

On Friday, Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney said: “The scope of this investigation is wide ranging both in terms of the timescale of the contamination and the number of people we are speaking to.

“It is important that people are clear in their minds that, as things stand, we do not know for sure if the contaminated saline contributed to the deaths of these three people.

“It is a possibility we are looking at alongside the coroner, but we must stress that it will be extremely difficult to establish a link.

“That said we have someone deliberately contaminating saline in the one place that people should feel they are being most cared for.”

NEWS UPDATE:

The family of an 84-year-old man at the centre of a hospital poisoning probe fear more patient deaths will be investigated.

Lung cancer sufferer George Keep died at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, Greater Manchester, two days after a ward nurse raised concerns about a higher than normal number of patients with unexplained low blood sugar levels.

The suspicious deaths of Mr Keep, 71-year-old Arnold Lancaster and 44-year-old mother-of-two Tracey Arden are being linked to the deliberate contamination of saline solution.

Insulin was found in a batch of 36 saline ampoules in a storeroom close to ward A1 of the hospital.

Detectives believe the insulin was deliberately injected into the saline containers which were used in drips by at least two wards, but they say the three deaths remain unexplained as they await post-mortem examination results.

Mr Keep, from Cheadle, was admitted to Stepping Hill on June 27 after he suffered a broken hip in a fall.

He was recovering well after an operation until two days before his death, when his blood pressure and blood sugar levels started to drop, said his daughter Carolyn Knowles.

She said her family were worried the number of deaths that police are investigating will rise.

“If you go into hospital, it is supposed to be a safe place,” she said. “It is a place where you trust people.

“You just don’t possibly imagine anything like this could possibly happen. I just cannot imagine anyone wanting to do that to someone else.”

Her husband David added: “If the police start looking into the past, they might find all sorts of awful things and that doesn’t bear thinking about that.”

Greater Manchester Police‘s major incident team is focusing its investigation from July 7 onwards but will review previous deaths at the hospital if new information comes to light.

Long-term multiple sclerosis sufferer Ms Arden died on July 7, while Mr Lancaster died last Monday.

Police are continuing to interview doctors, nurses, porters, patients and visitors, while security remains high in and around the hospital.

Eleven people who survived the effects of the tampered medication will also be interviewed.

All future deaths at the hospital that show any signs of relevant symptoms may be referred to detectives to investigate.

NEWS UPDATE:

Police investigating suspicious deaths at a hospital say they are working flat-out, with 60 detectives on the case.

Ian Hopkins, Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, said the thoughts of officers were with the family of Tracey Arden, 44, George Keep, 84, and Arnold Lancaster, 71, who died at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport.

The deaths of all three are being linked to the deliberate contamination of saline solution, with the hospital now at the centre of an intense police investigation.

Insulin was found in a batch of 36 saline ampoules in a storeroom close to ward A1 of the hospital in Stockport, Cheshire.

Detectives believe the insulin was deliberately injected into the saline containers which were used in drips by at least two wards, but they say the three deaths remain unexplained as they await post-mortem examination results.

Mr Hopkins said: “Our thoughts continue to be with the families of Tracey Arden, George Keep and Arnold Lancaster. The anguish they will be feeling at this time must be terrible.

“I would like to reassure them we are doing all we can to find out what caused the death of their loved ones.

“There is an ongoing complex investigation requiring detailed forensic analysis and we are continuing to interview a large number of witnesses.

“We have about 60 experienced detectives working on this. They have worked 24/7 since the investigation began and they working as fast as they can without compromising the quality of the investigation.

“We recognise this is an incredibly difficult time for staff at Stepping Hill Hospital who are dedicated to the care of people and saving life.”

 

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