Watchdogs inspect hospital in insulin poisoning investigation

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Government inspectors have carried out a surprise inspection at a hospital at the centre of a police probe into insulin poisoning.

Experts from health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out the inspection at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, Greater Manchester, last month.

Detectives believe somebody at the hospital injected saline with insulin, poisoning 22 patients.

The contamination was discovered in July last year.

A CQC spokesperson said: “The CQC carried out an unannounced inspection at Stepping Hill Hospital on Monday, March 26, where inspectors focused on standards relating to patient care and welfare, medicines management and the internal assessments in place to monitor service provision.

“The CQC will publish full details of the inspectors’ findings from this visit in a review of compliance on its website in the near future.”

Hospital bosses say safety procedures have been reviewed since the contamination was discovered. They include keeping saline locked away.

A hospital spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that we have had a visit from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and are currently awaiting their report.

“This visit was part of the CQC’s annual programme of inspections which are carried out nationally.

“Our services and care are constantly reviewed, but it is always helpful to have others assess these areas. This helps us to keep improving what we do and ensure we provide the highest quality care.”

Earlier this month Beryl Hope, 70, was revealed to be the latest patient believed to have been poisoned.

She died last August and detectives “recategorised” her case after a thorough review with medical specialists.

However, it is not known whether the poisoning contributed to her death.

Detectives are continuing to investigate and review the cases of 21 other patients, including six others who have died: Tracey Arden, Arnold Lancaster, Derek Weaver, William Dickson (known as Bill), Linda McDonagh and John Beeley (known as Jack).

Greater Manchester Police said they were “continually getting new information and data, all of which is under constant review and scrutiny”.

A male nurse arrested in connection with poisoning deaths at Stepping Hill was rebailed in March pending further inquiries.

Filipino-born Victorino Chua, 46, was arrested in January on suspicion of tampering with medical records at the hospital and was further arrested on suspicion of three counts of murder and 18 counts of causing grievous bodily harm.

The tampering affected patients on wards A1, A2 or A3, acute care wards for seriously-ill patients.

Detectives still do not know for sure if insulin poisoning caused any of the deaths.

Comprehensive scientific testing is still going on in the lengthy police investigation involving the interviewing of more than 650 people.

Another Stepping Hill nurse, Rebecca Leighton, from Heaviley, Stockport, spent six weeks in jail after being held over allegations she had tampered with the saline bags.

She was then released and cleared of any wrongdoing last September when prosecutors said there was not enough evidence against her.

The 28-year-old nurse was subsequently sacked for theft by bosses.