Blackpool Victoria Hospital boss gives update on Covid admissions and murder investigation

The number of patients with Covid-19 at Blackpool Victoria Hospital rose from 10 to 16, medical director Dr Jim Gardner said on Wednesday.

Friday, 9th July 2021, 9:12 am
Updated Friday, 9th July 2021, 9:32 am

Dr Gardner said one person was in intensive care, whilst two people had died in the past week, taking the Vic’s coronavirus death toll to 770.

He said those deaths came amidst a backdrop of rising community infection rates – mainly amongst the under-60s – but said the vaccine’s impact has been “absolutely massive” with “hardly” any rise in those who have been jabbed.

But he said there was “room for improvement” in Blackpool, where 64 per cent of adults have completed both doses, compared to 73 per cent in Fylde and 75 per cent in Wyre.

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Dr Gardner said one person was in intensive care, whilst two people had died in the past week, taking the Vic’s coronavirus death toll to 770
Dr Gardner said one person was in intensive care, whilst two people had died in the past week, taking the Vic’s coronavirus death toll to 770

And he pleaded for people to call 111 in non-emergencies, describing A&E and walk-in centres on the Fylde coast as “extraordinarily busy”.

Around 100 people were waiting for treatment in the Vic’s Emergency Department on Monday, which he said was “pretty much a record” and threatened to undermine infection control measures – and lead to lengthy waits to be seen.

Murder and rape investigation ongoing, says Vic boss

Dr Gardner, speaking during his weekly Covid briefing, also acknowledged a police investigation into the alleged murder of stroke unit patient Valerie Kneale, 75, as well as several alleged rapes and sex attacks by a now suspended worker.

He said bosses were “completely engaging” with detectives and admitted staff, patients, and their families had been affected by coverage of the case.

He added: “We are confident our own services now are safe.”

The unnamed medic, who is on bail until September 3, was first held for questioning in March after being arrested on suspicion of killing Mrs Kneale, a wife and grandmother, who died in November 2018 and given a post-mortem examination as part of a separate enquiry into the suspected poisoning of patients on the stroke unit.

After also quizzed over two alleged rapes, and a sex attack on a colleague.

On Monday, he was voluntarily interviewed about two further allegations of rape, and seven sexual assaults on healthcare professionals.

The long-running poison plot probe, launched two-and-a-half years ago after a whistle-blower raised the alarm, led to eight potential victims being found, The Gazette previously reported.

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