Police investigating the alleged poisoning of patients on a stroke widens the probe to eight deaths

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Police investigating alleged poisoning of patients in stroke ward widens probe to investigate eight more deaths

  • The police investigation of a stroke unit was expanded to investigate eight more deaths
  • A health profession at Blackpool Victoria Hospital is currently on bail from the police
  • Unnamed man was arrested on suspicion of murdering Valerie Kneale, 75

A police investigation into the alleged poisoning of patients in a stroke unit has been drastically expanded to investigate eight other deaths.

A health care provider at Blackpool Victoria Hospital is currently on police bail after being arrested on suspicion of the murder of Valerie Kneale, 75.

He was detained in March after the arrest of seven staff members – three of whom were nurses – during a two and a half year investigation that followed allegations of a whistleblower that had been tampered with.

A police investigation into the alleged poisoning of patients in a stroke unit has been drastically expanded to investigate eight other deaths. Image: file image

Lancashire police revealed yesterday that the deaths of eight other patients were now linked to allegations of neglect and assault in the stroke department. They will be assessed by the local coroner.

Police were initially contacted by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, shortly before Ms Kneale’s death in November 2018.

Their questions focused on the use of drops and cannulas in the ward, as well as the administration of sleeping tablets. Investigators are believed to have explored the suggestion that patients in the stroke unit were given the drug Zopiclone to keep them sedated.

Seven health care professionals were arrested on suspicion of administering a ‘poison or harmful thing’ with the intent to injure, and assault or willful neglect, before being released on bail.

Investigators later revealed that an “unexplained injury” had been found during a post-mortem investigation of Ms. Kneale and that it was “presumably suspicious in nature.”

They added that while this information had come as a result of the assault and neglect investigation, it was treated separately as a murder investigation.

A health care provider at Blackpool Victoria Hospital is currently on police bail after being arrested on suspicion of the murder of Valerie Kneale, 75 (pictured)

A health care provider at Blackpool Victoria Hospital is currently on police bail after being arrested on suspicion of the murder of Valerie Kneale, 75 (pictured)

A Lancashire police spokesperson said yesterday: ‘We can confirm that investigations will take place for a number of people who have sadly died after treatment as inpatients at the stroke unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

“Eight investigations are planned in connection with our investigation of allegations of assault and neglect. A further investigation is planned for Valerie Kneale, whose murder is still under investigation. ‘

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has said it is ‘fully cooperating’ with the study.

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