Detectives investigate care unit at hospital

POLICE are investigating a hospital worker following a series of 'unexplained incidents' involving ventilators in an intensive care unit, it was revealed last night.

Detectives have been called in following a month-long internal inquiry at Bassetlaw District General Hospital in Nottinghamshire.

The Trust is within the Trent Regional Health Authority, which also employed nurse Beverley Allitt, who is serving 13 life sentences for killing four children and injuring nine others in her care. Allitt worked as a nurse at Grantham and Kesteven General Hospital.

The nature of the allegations against the member of staff who has been suspended are not known, although they must involve seriously ill patients. Ventilators are used to mechanically maintain a flow of air into and out of the lungs of a patient who is unable to breathe normally.

The NHS Trust has not revealed whether any patients at the hospital in Worksop, north of Nottingham, have been killed or injured as a result of the incidents with the ventilators. The full statement from the Trust's chief executive, Munro Donald, said: 'An investigation has been under way in the Intensive Therapy Unit about unexplained incidents involving ventilators and other equipment.

'A member of staff has been suspended since January 21 when the incident was brought to the Trust's attention.

'On February 21, an internal inquiry was completed. The Trust was advised to inform the police and it continued with its own internal procedures to conduct a disciplinary inquiry.

'The police have decided to conduct their own investigation and the Trust's internal disciplinary inquiry has been temporarily suspended at the request of the police.'

Nottinghamshire Police last night confirmed they were contacted by the Trust regarding 'a series of incidents' in the Intensive Therapy Unit of the hospital.

A spokesman said police had received a written report and were starting an investigation on Monday. There were no further details of the person being questioned.

Two weeks ago the official report into the circumstances of the Allitt case blamed a combination of overworked doctors, shortage of nurses and weak hospital managers for allowing her to kill.

The inquiry, headed by Sir Cecil Clothier QC, said vital clues were neglected that would have found her out before she killed the children between February and April 1991.

Allitt, 25, who is being

held at top security Rampton Hospital, Nottinghamshire, had Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy, a chronic personality disorder, which drove her to harm children to win attention.

She spent just 58 days on the Lincolnshire hospital ward as a qualified enrolled nurse, during which time she made at least 26 attacks on at least 13 children.

Four of the attacks were made after laboratory tests proved one child had been injected poisonously with insulin.

The Clothier inquiry said mistakes were made in autopsies and other clues, revealed in X-rays, did not cause doctors and nurses to deduce that a criminal was on the ward in nurse's uniform - only that 'mischief was afoot' as the inquiry report said.

She got her job on Ward Four of Grantham and Kesteven District Hospital as a result of sloppy management which failed to ensure a full consultation of her alarming medical history, the inquiry report said.

As a student nurse Allitt went 50 times to doctors. She inflicted injuries on herself and had imagined illnesses. Her physiotherapist, astonished to learn she was a pupil nurse, told the authorities. They knew Allitt had a disorder based on hysteria, yet she was hired to work on a children's ward.

When detectives were called in, Trent Regional Health Authority, the apex of the management structure, said they had been brought in as soon as clues had emerged. In fact, proof of the deadly insulin injection had arrived 18 days earlier.

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