COPS probing a series of alleged fatal poisonings of patients on a stroke unit have arrested three more nurses and a healthcare assistant.
In total seven medics at Blackpool Victoria Hospital have now been detained by police investigating reports of deaths caused by staff.
Officers are looking into the use of drips and cannulas on the ward as well as the administering of sleeping tablets.
It comes after detectives unearthed sick messages between nightshift workers including one text that read: “Another one gone tonight”.
One man and three women were held yesterday as part of a huge investigation that was triggered by a whistle-blower last November.
A female nurse was arrested in November and one male and one female nurse were detained last December before being released under investigation.
A number of funerals have been delayed to allow for postmortem examinations to be carried out but police have still not confirmed the number of victims.
One of the postmortems triggered a murder probe in January with a suspicious injury being found on the body of Valerie Kneale, 75, who died on the stroke unit on November 16.
But police said her death is being investigated as a separate enquiry and no arrests have yet been made.
Our priority and the priority of the Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is to ensure the safety of patients.
Detective Chief Inspector Jill Johnston
Detective Chief Inspector Jill Johnston of Lancashire Police said the force’s complex investigation is “very much on-going”.
She said: “I understand further arrests could be concerning but I would like to reassure people we have a dedicated team of detectives working on this investigation.
“Our priority and the priority of the Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is to ensure the safety of patients.
“Given the number of arrests and the nature of the allegations, it remains a complex and sensitive inquiry.
“No timescales have been set and I would ask people to remain patient while we continue to conduct our enquiries.
“A number of postmortem examinations have taken place in connection with our investigation and we are supporting those families who have had loved ones identified as potentially being involved.
“They are being kept fully updated and supported throughout the process by specially trained officers.
“We are working closely with the trust as well as [the] coroner for Blackpool and Fylde as part of the investigation.”
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The probe is believed to be centred around the use of the drug Zopiclone which comes in pill or liquid form and is used as a sleeping pill.
Wendy Swift, the chief executive at the Vic, said: “We would like to reassure our patients that all necessary actions are being taken.
“The hospital remains a safe and caring environment for patients and the provision of services will continue as usual.”
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