Fourth Stepping Hill Poison Victim Revealed

6 January 2012, 09:28

The death of an 82 year old man is now being investigated by police looking into claims drips were tampered with at Stockport's Stepping Hill Hospital.

Bill Dickson is the fourth death being examined by police looking at the contamination of saline drips in June and July last year. Glasgow-born Mr Dickson, who lived in Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, died on New Year's Eve.

Police are now investigating whether the poisoning he suffered at Stepping Hill during the summer was a factor in his death.

Family Tribute

In a statement, his family said: "Bill was a very kind and generous man with a great sense of humour.

"He was a hardworking and dedicated journalist, well respected by his colleagues.

"A loving husband, father and grandfather, he will be sorely missed by his family."

Nurse Arrested In Seperate Stepping Hill Inquiry

Meanwhile in a seperate investigation Greater Manchester Police detectives continued to question a 46-year-old male nurse on suspicion of unlawfully administering or causing a person to take a noxious substance, or poison, after it was found that medical records had been tampered with on Monday.

Sources close to the investigation stressed the nurse's arrest formed part of a separate probe into the four deaths, and as yet there was no link between the two.

But the arrested nurse worked on the same wards at the same time as the patients were poisoned last summer.

"Search For Truth"

Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney said: "This is, and always has been, a search for the truth.

"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.''

He stressed that it was a "complex'' investigation and police were committing "significant'' resources to it.

Police have yet to establish a causal link between the deaths of the four patients and the contamination of their saline drips.

The man arrested yesterday was held after another nurse noticed the medical records of a patient on Ward A3 had been altered overnight between January 2 and 3.

The patient whose records were altered was given medicine he should not have received but was not harmed.

He was carefully monitored and subsequently discharged.

Hospital Reaction

Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, said it was "appalled''.

Chief executive Chris Burke added: "Because of highly experienced doctors and nurses immediately spotting the changes on prescription charts, no patient has been harmed.''

The Nursing and Midwifery Council said: "The NMC has been made aware of the arrest of a nurse at Stepping Hill hospital in Stockport.

"We are liaising with the Greater Manchester Police force and Stockport NHS Foundation Trust 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.''

The suspect held was one of 650 people already spoken to by police during their complex and long-running investigation at the hospital since the saline drip contaminations were discovered.

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