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Police begin probe of patient death at Mid Staffs

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A criminal inquiry has been launched into the death of a 90-year-old woman who died at scandal-hit Stafford Hospital five years ago.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said it had recently begun an investigation into the death of Ivy Bunn after a multi-agency review of more than 200 cases of alleged neglect.

The retired dinner lady died at Stafford Hospital in November 2008, having been admitted to hospital following a fall a week earlier.

The Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust is currently awaiting sentencing at Stafford Crown Court after admitting safety breaches relating to the death of Gillian Astbury, a diabetic patient who was not given insulin.

In a statement confirming a second criminal probe was now under way, Staffordshire Police said detectives had completed an initial “scoping” review of material relating to deaths at the hospital between 2005 and 2009.

In total, 209 cases have been identified for more detailed review and to date 36 have been examined by a joint team from Staffordshire Police and the HSE.

No further action is being taken in respect of 34 of the cases, but an inquiry into potential health and safety offences has now been launched into the death of Mrs Bunn.

Staffordshire’s Assistant Chief Constable, Nick Baker, said: “Our job is to thoroughly review the 209 cases to see if a criminal offence has potentially been committed which would warrant criminal investigation.

“Crown Prosecution Service colleagues have given our investigators detailed prosecution guidance to help steer their work.

“So far, the joint team hasn’t uncovered any new or additional information which would warrant a criminal investigation in 34 out of 36 cases.

“However, two have clearly warranted further action under health and safety legislation and colleagues at the HSE are leading on this.”

Mr Baker said work was continuing to review the remaining 173 cases, a “sensitive” process which is likely to take another six months.

He added: “Detectives and staff working on the case have been specially trained and are knowledgeable about the very complex healthcare-related legal issues they’re dealing with.

“We’ve also got a huge responsibility to the 209 families affected by the work we are doing.

“We’ve written to all of those we can at this stage to keep them informed and to provide each family with a specially trained family liaison officer who they can turn to for advice or support.”

The multi-agency group examining the alleged neglect was established in February, following publication of the Francis Inquiry report into the “appalling” standards of care provided by the Mid Staffordshire Trust.

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