19 Jul 2011

Hospital deaths suspect ‘may still be on site’

Police reveal the person responsible for causing the deaths of three people at a hospital in Greater Manchester by deliberately tampering with their drips may still be on the site.

A policeman outside Stepping Hill Hospital (Reuters)

Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport has become a crime scene following the suspicious deaths of Tracey Arden, 44, George Keep, 84, and Arnold Lancaster, 71.

A fourth patient, a man in his 40s, has also been revealed to be critically ill.

Detectives believe insulin was injected into saline containers, which were used in intravenous drips in at least two wards in the hospital.

Over 60 detectives are interviewing people who work or visit the site and security has been increased.

Police have ruled out making quick arrests, describing their work as a “complex investigation.”

They also say it is possible that the suspect is still at the hospital.

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

This is a criminal act, perpetrated by someone with malicious intent. Chris Burke, Stockport NHS Foundation Trust

“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.”

South Manchester coroner John Pollard briefly opened inquests into the three deaths earlier.

They were adjourned until a later date at the request of Supt Julian Ross, who is leading the inquiry into the deaths.

No family members attended today’s hearing at Stockport Coroner’s Court.

Read more: Security stepped up at hospital over saline tampering