Nurse Charged in UK Hospital Deaths

Greater Manchester Police have referred five recent deaths at Stepping Hill Hospital to the coroner. Nurse Rebecca Leighton was charged July 22 with six counts of causing criminal damage with intent to endanger life or being reckless as to whether life would be endangered and one count of theft of medicine from the hospital.

Seven charges were filed July 22 against Rebecca Leighton, 27, in connection with patient deaths at Stepping Hill Hospital in Manchester, England, leading British newspapers reported. The Guardian and The Telegraph newspapers reported she has been charged with six counts of causing criminal damage with intent to endanger life or being reckless as to whether life would be endangered and one count of theft of medicine from the hospital.

The Greater Manchester (UK) Police announced July 21 that five similar deaths at Stepping Hill have been referred to the coroner and may have resulted from contaminated saline solution.

Leighton, a nurse who worked at the hospital, was arrested July 20 at her home on suspicion of murder in connection with the investigation of contaminated saline bags. Hospital staffers contacted the police on July 12 after three patients died and it was discovered that someone had injected insulin into saline solution bags. A nurse realized several patients at the facility were experiencing sudden, unexpected drops in their blood sugar; police said at least 11 patients were affected.

Police have not confirmed the contamination caused the five deaths but have said any death at the hospital with similar symptoms is being referred to the coroner. The hospital is the main facility among four owned by Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, whose CEO, Chris Burke, expressed his shock at the event during a July 18 news conference.

"Our staff are shocked, horrified, and angry at what's happened. They are alarmed that a place that should be for care has become a crime scene," Burke said, The Guardian reported. "This is a criminal act, perpetrated by someone with malicious intent. We do not believe it could have been anticipated. This is a bad person doing a malevolent thing. This is about someone wanting to inflict harm, pain and, possibly further, as a deliberate malicious act. That is nothing to do with care."

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