Nurse charged over British hospital deaths

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British police charged a nurse Friday over the deaths of five patients at a hospital where detectives believe saline solution had been contaminated with insulin.

Rebecca Leighton, 27, was arrested Wednesday over suspicious deaths this month at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, outside Manchester in northwest England.

She was charged with six counts of causing damage with intent to endanger life in connection with the deaths.

She will appear at Manchester Magistrates' Court on Saturday.

"A woman arrested by detectives investigating five deaths at Stepping Hill Hospital has been charged," a Greater Manchester Police spokesman said.

Leighton "is charged with six counts under section one of the Criminal Damage Act, causing damage with intent to endanger life or being reckless to whether life is being endangered.

"She is also charged with one count of theft of medicine from Stepping Hill Hospital."

Officers believe someone deliberately tampered with a batch of saline, contaminating it with insulin.

Multiple sclerosis sufferer Tracey Arden, 44, died on July 7, and retired photographer Arnold Lancaster, 71, of Romiley, died on July 11.

George Keep, 84, of Cheadle, died on July 14 after being admitted to the hospital with a broken hip, while on the same day 84-year-old Vera Pearson also died.

Derek Weaver, 83, died Thursday after suffering a hypoglycaemic episode on July 11.

Ten other patients at the hospital have been affected, including a 41-year-old man, who is in critical condition.

Police were called in to the hospital last week after a nurse reported a higher than normal number of patients on her ward with "unexplained" low blood sugar levels, pointing to saline containers being sabotaged.

© 2011 AFP

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