Seven months after a major investigation was launched into the suspected poison plot on the stroke unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, police have yet to publicly confirm how many – if any – victims there are.
The probe has led to the arrests of seven medics, the cancellation of funerals, and separate murder investigation sparked by tests on dead patients.
Fylde coast MPs have now called on Lancashire Police to be more open after a number of questions went unanswered, including the total number of confirmed victims; how many families have been contacted by detectives; and what specific injuries the 75-year-old suspected murder victim, Blackpool grandmother Valerie Kneale, suffered.
Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden, inset below, said: “It’s two months since the police last made a statement in this area, and there will inevitably be some concerns that they don’t feel able at this point – as their investigation continues – to be more transparent.”
Fylde MP Mark Menzies added: “Given the number of people treated on this ward and in the wider hospital, it is vital we have updates from police on this investigation.
“While this is a very sensitive situation and a police operational matter, I fully understand that members of the public are demanding information and I look forward to them receiving more information when police are able to share it.”
And Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard said: “I recognise the need to keep the public informed on such an important matter while, at the same time, not compromising the ongoing investigation.”
Lancashire Police confirmed no arrests have been made over Mrs Kneale’s death, and said the poison probe is “complex and ongoing”.
The first medic to be arrested, a nurse, was held on Friday, November 9 last year, the day after the hospital called in police. Another two medics were arrested in December, with a further four held in April. All have been suspended from hospital duty.
Det Ch Insp Jill Johnston said at the time: “I understand further arrests could be concerning but I would like to reassure people we have a dedicated team of detectives working on this investigation. Given the number of arrests and the nature of the allegations, it remains a complex and sensitive inquiry. No timescales have been set I would ask people to remain patient.”
Detectives believe elderly patients were given prescription-only drugs to keep them heavily sedated at night.
Up to eight possible victims were understood to have been identified by December, it was previously reported.