Nurses at centre of Blackpool Victoria Hospital poisoning probe are bailed as team of detectives continue their investigation

Two Blackpool Victoria Hospital nurses arrested on suspicion of poisoning patients on the stroke unit have been bailed, police said this morning.

Wednesday, 12th December 2018, 10:19 am
Updated Wednesday, 12th December 2018, 11:45 am
Blackpool Victoria Hospital
Blackpool Victoria Hospital

The man and woman were the second and third people to be held as part of the investigation, after a female nurse was arrested last month, a day after concerned hospital bosses called in police.

The pair are due to answer their bail on January 8. The third nurse was last week re-bailed until February 10. All three were suspended from duty.

Lancashire Police said a number of post-mortem examinations have been carried out, but did not say, when asked, how many.

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It also did not say how many families have been contacted, or how many, if any, victims have been identified.

No bodies have been exhumed, a spokeswoman said, with a team of detectives working on the investigation, which Det Ch Insp Jill Johnston said in a statement yesterday was "complicated and sensitive" and still in its "early stages".

She said: "I understand further arrests might be concerning but I would like to reassure people we have a dedicated team of detectives working on this investigation.

"We are offering support to those families who have had loved ones identified as potentially being involved.

"They are being kept fully updated and supported throughout the process by specially-trained officers."

She said the priority was to "ensure the safety of patients", with police working "closely" with the Whinney Heys Road hospital and Blackpool's coroner Alan Wilson.

One concerned family member said her mother died in 2014 after staying on the stroke unit, and told The Gazette "it has come to my attention that one of the suspended healthcare workers was on that ward at the same time".

She had not been contacted by police, she said, but added: "Ultimately I think I should report it as what has [allegedly] happened may go further back.

"I am contacting the police ... as it is better to be safe than sorry."

Blackpool South MP, Gordon Marsden, said: "This is a very serious and, coming on top of other allegations, needs to be investigated with all speed within the trust, and with the maximum transparency within the context of any legal process."

Hospital boss Wendy Swift last month said "all allegations of this type" are taken "extremely seriously" and said she wanted to "reassure all our patients that all necessary actions are being taken".

She added yesterday: "When the concerns were raised we immediately contacted the police. The trust is continuing to work with the police and co-operate fully with their investigation.

"The hospital remains a safe and caring environment for patients, and the provision of services will continue as usual."

The first nurse was arrested on Friday, November 9.

Estephanie Dunn, regional director of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in the north west, said: “We recognise that when tusts are in the media spotlight, it can have an impact on the staff involved or within the workplace.

“The RCN is here to offer advice, support and a free counselling service for members all year round.

"If RCN members have any concerns, they can contact their workplace representative or RCN Direct.”

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