Troubled hospital faces inquiry into baby death

John McKie
Sunday 23 October 2011 09:04
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Police are interviewing staff at a Liverpool hospital over the death of a three month-old baby girl, believed to be from a morphine overdose.

A number of staff at Arrowe Park Hospital in Birkenhead are being interviewed after the child, born three months prematurely on 14 January, died from the apparent overdose on 9 March. The death is the latest in a series of controversial incidents at the Merseyside hospital.

A police spokesman said last night: "Until the coroner's results, we can't say any more. Anybody that has come into contact with the baby will be interviewed."

A hospital spokeswoman said: "Hospital management will be unable to make further comment as there is an inquest pending."

Morale among staff at the hospital has been thought to be low after changes to contracts and staffing levels. As recently as last month, Wirral Hospital NHS Trust chiefs had to call for calm after anaesthetic equipment in the hospital's operating theatre was sabotaged by a disaffected member of staff.

Last year, hospital nurse Paula Maxwell, 39, committed suicide after depression because of a job reorganisation.

In 1993, another nurse, Dominic Rymer, was jailed for a year after he admitted tampering with a prescription for a nine year-old patient.

In 1991, Hilda Greenwood, 82, died at Arrowe Park after a morphine overdose, and 50 year-old Barbara Hignett died from an adverse reaction to a drug. Both inquests ruled the deaths were down to lack of care. In September 1990, Lee Rainford, 23, died from the overdose of a chemotherapy drug, which an inquest ruled was also due to lack of care.

The 800-bed hospital was the first NHS trust hospital to be awarded a Charter Mark for patient care.

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