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Nurse arrested over Stockport hospital saline deaths

Nurses’ regulator confirms fitness to practise proceedings started

Caroline White

Thursday, 21 July 2011

The nurses’ regulator, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), has confirmed that it has begun fitness to practise proceedings against Rebecca Leighton in connection with three deaths at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport.

It is thought that 14 patients have been affected altogether, after being given saline solution contaminated with insulin. A 44 year old woman (Tracey Arden) and two men aged 71 (Arnold Lancaster) and 84 (George Keep) have died and a further patient remains critically ill.

Insulin was found in 36 saline ampoules in a store room close to a ward on which Ms Leighton worked after a nurse reported a higher than normal number of patients on her ward with unexplained low blood sugar levels last week.

The 26 year old was arrested on Wednesday at her home in Greater Manchester, but no charges have yet been brought. Police enquiries are still ongoing, and heightened security measures at the hospital remain in place.

NMC chief Professor Dickon Weir-Hughes said in a statement: “The NMC has now received confirmation from the Greater Manchester Police Force Intelligence Branch and Stockport NHS Foundation Trust that registered nurse Rebecca Jane Leighton has been arrested and is being questioned by the police.

“We have commenced fitness to practise proceedings with a view to suspending her from the register as quickly as possible. As this is now an open fitness to practise investigation, we are unable to provide further comment about the details of the case at this time.”

Dr Chris Burke Chief Executive Stockport NHS Foundation Trust said: “As the police are continuing with their enquiries we are unable to provide any further details, but it is important to stress that no charge has been made at this stage.”

Assistant Chief Constable Ian Hopkins of Greater Manchester Police said: "There is an ongoing complex investigation requiring detailed forensic analysis and we are continuing to interview a large number of witnesses.

We have about 60 experienced detectives working on this. They have worked 24/7 since the investigation began and they working as fast as they can without compromising the quality of the investigation.”

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