Poison plot probe at Blackpool Victoria Hospital continues three years after whistleblower raised the alarm - with seven victims flagged, seven medics arrested, and spin-off murder investigation launched

The poison plot probe at Blackpool Victoria Hospital continues three years after bosses called in police.

Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 10:26 pm

Seven hospital workers remain on bail after being arrested and quizzed on suspicion of giving people on the stroke unit prescription-only drugs to keep them sedated at night.

A spin-off investigation – sparked when a post-mortem carried out on stroke unit patient Valerie Kneale revealed she died from bleeding caused by horrific vaginal injuries that had nothing to do with her treatment – saw a medic arrested on suspicion of murder, two rapes, and a sex attack on a colleague.

He remains on bail though, like the seven others, is suspended from work.

Blackpool Victoria Hospital

While one Vic source voiced a belief the long-running probe is expected to come to a head early next year, Lancashire Police said ‘both investigations remain ongoing’ – with ‘no major update’ being offered.

Detectives have remained largely tight-lipped throughout the course of their inquiries, which started in November 2018 after a whistle-blower raised the alarm.

But they believe medics were given widely-used Zopiclone and asked resort coroner Alan Wilson to review eight deaths after ordering a ‘number’ of post-mortems to be done.

One grieving daughter was told to cancel her dad’s funeral so tests could be carried out on his body, and said: “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”

Valerie Kneale

Valerie Kneale, 75, was admitted to hospital after a stroke and, after breaking her leg falling out of a chair, died four days later on November 16, 2018.

Her death was publicly declared suspicious by the murder squad the following February, when her family said: “We are completely and utterly devastated and heartbroken.

"Val was the most precious wife, mother, and grandmother.”

At the opening of her inquest, Mr Wilson said she died from internal and external bleeding caused by a non-medical ‘vaginal laceration or tear’.

Zopiclone, the drug feared to have been given to patients

He adjourned the hearing until the criminal investigation - and other legal proceedings - are complete.

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