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Nurse arrested over hospital deaths

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Summary of story from BBC News, July 20, 2011

A nurse has been arrested on suspicion of murder after the deaths of three patients at a hospital in Stockport, Greater Manchester.

Rebecca Leighton, 27, was arrested at home and is being questioned after two men and a woman died at Stepping Hill Hospital.

Police believe that insulin was deliberately injected into saline containers.

Sixty detectives have been involved in the inquiry and officers so far, have questioned more than 50 people.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council said proceedings were under way to suspend Ms Leighton’s nursing registration while she is under investigation.

Tracey Arden, 44, Arnold Lancaster, 71, and George Keep, 84, all died at the hospital in the past month.

A fourth patient, a man in his 40s, remains critically ill.

Greater Manchester Police believe the sabotaged saline containers were used on at least two wards, A1 and A3.

Dr Chris Burke, chief executive of Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are aware that Greater Manchester Police have made an arrest this morning of a 27-year-old female.

“As the police are continuing with their enquiries, we are unable to provide any further details, but it is important to stress that no charges have been made at this stage.”

Detectives were called to the hospital after an experienced nurse reported a higher-than-normal number of patients on her ward with “unexplained” low blood sugar levels.

Officers found insulin had been used to contaminate a batch of 36 saline ampoules in a storeroom close to ward A1.

Insulin is always stored in a fridge in a locked treatment room but saline has also been locked away as a result of the incidents.

South Manchester coroner John Pollard has opened and adjourned inquests into the deaths of Ms Arden, Mr Lancaster and Mr Keep.

Assistant Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said: “Due to heightened awareness, staff are alerting police to anything they feel might be suspicious or relevant to the investigation and to date there has been no further contamination of any product since the control measures were introduced.”

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