Man seriously ill at probe hospital

A man was fighting for his life tonight at a hospital where police are already investigating the suspicious deaths of three patients.



Police fear the suspect who sabotaged saline containers with insulin may still be stalking the corridors of Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, Cheshire.



The critically-ill patient, a man in his 40s, is part of a complex police investigation with 60 detectives questioning more than 50 staff at the hospital, with wards A1 and A3 the centre of the investigation.



Police have a "working assumption" that the contamination had taken place within the hospital and officers said they could not rule out the person responsible still being at the hospital but it may also be a visitor to the site.



The unexplained deaths of Tracey Arden, 44, George Keep, 84, and Arnold Lancaster, 71, are all being linked to the deliberate contamination of the saline solution.



They are among a total of 14 patients whose treatment since July 7 is being examined by police.



Detectives were called in after an experienced nurse reported a higher than normal number of patients on her ward with "unexplained" low blood sugar levels pointing to the saline ampoules being sabotaged.



Officers found insulin had contaminated a batch of 36 saline ampoules in a storeroom close to ward A1 of the hospital.



The three deaths remain unexplained as detectives await the results of further pathology tests to find out if the insulin contributed to fatality.



Inquests into the deaths of all three victims were opened and adjourned by South Manchester Coroner John Pollard today.



Chris Burke, chief executive of Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Our staff are shocked, horrified and angry at what's happened.



"They are alarmed that a place that should be for care has become a crime scene.



"This is a criminal act, perpetrated by someone with malicious intent. We do not believe it could have been anticipated.



"This is about someone wanting to inflict harm, pain and, possibly further, as a deliberate malicious act. That is nothing to do with care."



Security had been ramped up and there are now daily review meetings between senior police and NHS bosses.



Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable Ian Hopkins told reporters that "at the moment" the investigation was concentrating on the 14 patients in total who may have come to harm.



He said: "At that stage, when we have got a clear suspect we are dealing with, is the time we will look at historic deaths."



Mr Hopkins said officers were questioning a large number of people and had a large amount of forensic evidence to sift.



He added: "With this being a complex investigation, it is unlikely there will be very early arrests.



"Our investigation in the initial stages is concerned with people who work or visit the hospital.



"We are not ruling out it could be someone outside the hospital, but our focus is on staff and visitors to the hospital."



James Catania, medical director at Stepping Hill, said insulin was always kept in a refrigerator in a locked treatment room.



Saline solutions were now also being kept in a locked room.



He said saline drips were "technically benign products" which the hospital used in "hundreds and thousands on a daily basis".



Medics were now working in pairs to check and administer drugs across the hospital.



Bosses had also brought in rules so a single key holder has to be asked for access to locked drugs cabinets and names and times were being taken each time drugs were given to patients.

Suggested Topics
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth gamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game