60 detectives investigate hospital deaths

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.



"We are working closely with hospital managers to minimise disruption to the running of the hospital, but ultimately our duty is to those who have died and their families to conduct a thorough investigation into their deaths.



"We are also working to reduce the risk of harm to others being cared for at Stepping Hill."



The family of Mr Keep said they fear more patient deaths will be investigated.



A patient with lung cancer, Mr Keep died at Stepping Hill Hospital two days after a ward nurse raised concerns about a higher than normal number of patients with unexplained low blood sugar levels.



The pensioner from Cheadle was admitted to Stepping Hill on June 27 after he suffered a broken hip in a fall.



He was operated on and was recovering well 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 now "concerned" that 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."







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, a mother-of-two, died on July 7, while Mr Lancaster died last Monday.



There has been growing speculation that several more deaths may be looked at and that the contamination could have taken place outside the hospital.



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.



South Manchester coroner John Pollard is due to open inquests on all three deaths tomorrow.



All future deaths at the hospital that show any signs of relevant symptoms will be passed to Mr Pollard for the foreseeable future and may be referred to detectives to investigate.



Ms Arden, of Heaviley, Stockport, was admitted from her care home for routine drug treatment for her MS.



Her parents Keith and June visited her in the afternoon but were later called back by the hospital as she had "taken a turn for the worse".



By the time they arrived, their daughter, who had been in care since she was diagnosed with MS at the age of 32, was already dead.



Ms Arden's brother Gary said: "During the afternoon my mother and father had been to visit her, then they left her looking like she was recovering well. Colour was coming back into her cheeks and so on, she was responding well to her treatment.



"They left and then a relatively short while afterwards they received a call from the hospital that Tracey had taken a turn for the worse and they think they should come on and see her.



"By the time my mother and father arrived, she had just passed away."



He said his parents left the hospital at 4pm and Ms Arden died at about 6pm.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
booksNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015