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NHS worker arrested on suspicion of murder, rape and sex assault

Jane Dalton
·2-min read
A murder investigation was launched while claims of mistreatment and neglect at Blackpool Victoria Hospital were under way  (Google Maps)
A murder investigation was launched while claims of mistreatment and neglect at Blackpool Victoria Hospital were under way (Google Maps)

A healthcare professional has been arrested on suspicion of murder, rape and sexual assault as part of police investigations into a hospital.

Lancashire Police said the man was arrested as part of a murder investigation into the death of a 75-year-old woman at Blackpool Victoria Hospital in November 2018.

The worker, who is being held on suspicion of murder, two offences of rape and one offence of sexual assault, has been suspended by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, the force said.

A post-mortem on Valerie Kneale was one of a number carried out as part of an investigation into allegations of mistreatment and neglect on the hospital’s stroke unit.

A murder investigation was launched when it was found she died from a haemorrhage caused by a non-medical related internal injury.

A police spokesman said officers also received information on other claims of serious sexual assaults on two patients, as well as the sexual assault of one of the man’s colleagues who was working on the stroke unit.

A separate investigation into suspected poisoning of patients at the unit is continuing, but police said the new arrest was not linked to it.

Seven healthcare workers have previously been arrested as part of the poisoning probe.

Detective Chief Inspector Jill Johnston said: “We have today arrested a man in connection with a number of serious offences.

“We understand this will cause some significant concern in the community but please be reassured we have a dedicated team of officers conducting a number of enquiries.

“These are complicated and sensitive allegations which we are committed to investigating thoroughly.”

She said police were offering support to those involved, who were being updated with information by trained officers.

“Our priority and the priority of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is to ensure the safety of patients,” she added. “We are working closely with the trust, as well as HM coroner for Blackpool and Fylde as part of the investigation.”

She appealed for anyone with information or anyone who could help with their enquiries to speak to officers.

Additional reporting by PA

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Blackpool Victoria Hospital worker arrested on suspicion of poisoning patients