Murder and rape arrest in Blackpool hospital death investigation

Murder and rape arrest in Blackpool hospital death investigation

A healthcare professional has been arrested on suspicion of murder and rape as part of an investigation into a patient’s death at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, police have said.

Lancashire Police said the man was arrested as part of the investigation into Valerie Kneale’s death in 2018.

Ms Kneale, 75, died from a haemorrhage caused by a “non-medical related internal injury”, a spokesman said.

The arrested man has been suspended by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

The force spokesman said the man was being held on suspicion of murder, two offences of rape and one offence of sexual assault.

A post-mortem examination on Mrs Kneale, who died on 16 November 2018, was one of a number carried out as part of an investigation launched at the time into allegations of mistreatment and neglect on the hospital’s stroke unit.

A murder investigation was launched when the cause of her death was found.

The spokesman said investigating officers had received information about other allegations of serious sexual assaults against two patients, as well as the sexual assault of a healthcare professional working on the stroke unit.

A separate investigation into suspected poisoning of patients on the unit, which has previously seen seven hospital workers arrested, remains in progress.

Det Ch Insp Jill Johnston said the force was “committed” to thoroughly investigating the “complicated and sensitive allegations”.

She added that those involved were receiving specialist support and were being “updated throughout the process by trained officers”.

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