A hospital worker arrested over the murder of a stroke victim and three serious sexual assaults has been quizzed under caution over the rape of two other patients and further sex attacks on seven staff.
The Blackpool Victoria Hospital employee – who is currently suspended – was voluntarily interviewed about the additional allegations by Lancashire Police yesterday.
He is currently on bail after being arrested in March on suspicion of the murder of Valerie Kneale, 75, from Blackpool and sexual assaults against two other patients and a healthcare professional.
Now he has been interviewed over the alleged rape of two more patients and sexual assaults on seven more members of hospital staff.
It means he is currently being investigated over 13 potential crimes relating to the same number of victims connected to the hospital.
The investigation was sparked after police were made aware of allegations of mistreatment and neglect on the stroke unit in November 2018.
Stroke patient Valerie Kneale, 75, (pictured), died from a haemorrhage caused by a non-medical related internal injury
The worker – who has not been named – was arrested on suspicion of murder, rape and sexual assault and has now been bailed. Picture: File image
Part of their enquiries saw several post-mortems carried out, including on Mrs Kneale, 75, from Blackpool.
The results saw a murder investigation launched and the member of staff, whose identity is not known, arrested earlier this year.
An inquest into Mrs Kneale’s death earlier this year made distressing findings on how she had lost her life.
She had been admitted to the hospital following a stroke and had later broken her leg when falling from a chair.
Opening the inquest, coroner for Blackpool and Fylde Alan Wilson said: ‘Concerns had been raised about a potential injury around an intimate area.
‘This prompted a police investigation by Lancashire Constabulary.’
The worker faced accusations of serious sexual assaults against patients and staff
Lancashire Police confirmed the worker has also been suspended by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. Pictured: Blackpool Victoria Hospital
The autopsy revealed that although Mrs Kneale did have a significant stroke, the pathologist did not think it was the cause of death.
Mr Wilson said: ‘She said that was due to an internal and external haemorrhage which was in turn due to a vaginal laceration or tear.’
The pathologists’ report believed it was caused by a sexual assault after she was admitted to hospital. Mrs Kneale died on November 16, 2018.
Mr Wilson adjourned the hearing for five months while police continue investigations.
Mrs Kneales’ family, who did not attend, has been informed.
Mr Wilson said: ‘It is clearly necessary for this court to further adjourn the investigation into Mrs Kneales’ death in order to allow the police to continue with their investigations.
‘We ought not to hold an inquest while the police are actively pursuing their own investigation.’
The arrest is not linked to the ongoing investigation into allegations of poisoning and neglect, according to the police.
At the time Det Ch Insp Jill Johnston, of Lancashire Police, said: ‘A man has been arrested and bailed 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.
‘We are offering support to those involved and they are being updated throughout the process by trained officers.
‘Our priority and the priority of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is to ensure the safety of patients.
‘We are working closely with the Trust as well as HM Coroner for Blackpool and Fylde as part of the investigation.
‘If you have any information or have worked on the stroke unit and can assist with our enquiries, please come forward and speak to police immediately.’