16 Jul 2011

Security stepped up at hospital over saline tampering

Police interview 11 patients who survived the effects of tampered saline medication at Stepping Hill Hospital, following the deaths of three patients.

Three people have now died following the deliberate contamination of saline solution at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, Greater Manchester.

One of the victims, 44-year-old Tracey Arden, was named today. Two other men aged 71 and 84 also died following the tampering of their saline solution.

A nurse raised the alarm on Tuesday after seeing a greater degree of low blood sugar levels on her ward. Insulin was then found in a batch of 36 saline ampoules in the hospital storeroom.

Ms Arden, a multiple sclerosis suffered died last week on July 7 and the two male victims who had both had serious health problems died this week.

Police suspect that insulin was deliberately injected into the saline but will not confirm this as the reason of the deaths until a post-mortem is completed.

Yesterday, Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney said:

“It is important that people are clear in their minds that, as things stand, we do not know for sure if the contaminated saline contributed to the deaths of these three people.

“It is a possibility we are looking at alongside the coroner, but we must stress that it will be extremely difficult to establish a link.

“That said we have someone deliberately contaminating saline in the one place that people should feel they are being most cared for.

“I want to reassure everyone connected to the hospital – staff, patients, visitors and the wider community – that we are determined to prevent further harm and to bring the offender to justice.”

One of the 11 surviving patients did become very ill from her saline drip but has since recovered. The others patients were not thought to be seriously affected.

Security patrols have been stepped up as police work their way through the hospital in interviewing doctors, nurses, porters, patients and visitors.

A hotline number – 0161 419 4888 – has been set up for concerned patients and relatives.

Anyone with information about the contamination should call police on 0161 872 5050, or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.