Police probe into death of pensioner at hospital

A CRIMINAL investigation has been launched after an elderly man died while being treated as an inpatient at Harrogate Hospital.

Police confirmed yesterday they were looking into the death of George Paton, 75, understood to be a terminally-ill cancer patient who was an inpatient at a ward in the hospital.

Mr Paton, of Burnside Walk, Harrogate, died at the hospital on January 8.

Last night, a hospital spokesman would not confirm whether any staff had been suspended following the death, as it could jeopardise the police investigation.

It is the second scandal to rock the hospital in days after it emerged earlier this week that a body was buried in the wrong grave after being mistakenly released to a funeral director by hospital staff in what has been described as a "dreadful mistake". Following the discovery of the mix-up, an application had to be made to the Ministry of Justice for an exhumation licence to dig up the body and rebury it.

Anne Lawson, Director of Governance for Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust reported the death of an inpatient at Harrogate District Hospital to North Yorkshire Police, who are now investigating.

"The trust is co-operating fully with the police in their investigation and we will be making no further comment at this time, pending the police's enquiries."

Mr Paton's family were contacted by the Yorkshire Post yesterday but declined to comment.

A police spokesman said: "North Yorkshire Police are investigating the death of a 75-year-old man who was an inpatient at Harrogate District Hospital and died on January 8.

"Police were notified of the death by Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust who are co-operating with enquiries."