Police investigating the poisoning of patients at Stepping Hill Hospital in Manchester have arrested a 46-year-old male nurse on suspicion of tampering with records.
Three patients died after suffering hypoglycaemic episodes at the hospital last summer.
An 82-year-old man who had been poisoned at that time also died on New Year’s Eve, police revealed today.
The male nurse was arrested this morning after hospital staff reported that medical forms had been altered on the night of 3 January this year.
Police say that as a result it is believed one patient was administered additional amounts of medication. The patient was carefully monitored by hospital staff but has since been discharged.
The nurse has been arrested under Section 23 of the Offences Against the Person Act, which involve “unlawfully or maliciously administering or causing to be taken by another person any poison or destructive or noxious thing so as to endanger life or inflict grievous bodily harm”.
Greater Manchester Police said in a statement that the arrested man was currently only being questioned in relation to the tampering of records.
Detectives have been investigating the deliberate contamination of products at the hospital after incidents of hypoglycaemia on two wards between 1 June and 15 July last year.
It is now believed 20 people have been deliberately poisoned. Among those confirmed poisoned are Tracey Arden, 44, Arnold Lancaster, 71, and Derek Weaver, 83, who all died at the hospital. Investigations to establish their cause of death and any link to the poisoning are continuing.
Greater Manchester assistant chief constable Terry Sweeney said: “It is due to the diligence of staff at the hospital that we were made aware about the potential tampering of medical records and everyone should be reassured that, like the hospital, we initiated a swift response and have consequently arrested a member of staff in relation to this matter.
“I must stress that at this time he is only being spoken to in relation to these matters and as we have previously said we will not and cannot rule out making further arrests in the coming days or weeks.
“I cannot stress enough just how complex an investigation this is and is one that we continue to commit significant resources to.”
He continued: “I know relatives of the confirmed victims affected and the public in general continue to seek answers and we are working as quickly as we can to provide them without jeopardising the quality or integrity of the investigation.”
Mr Sweeney also thanked the hospital and its staff for “their continued and unreserved cooperation”.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council said in a statement that it was working with police and the hospital to “determine the need for fitness to practise proceedings to be commenced”.
“The NMC is the only organisation with the authority to protect the public by suspending a nurse’s registration while they are under investigation. If this is necessary and in the public interest we will take action as soon as possible,” it added.