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Nurse quizzed on records tampering

A 46-year-old male nurse has been arrested by police probing the poisoning of patients at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport.

The arrest came as it emerged that the death of an 82-year-old man on New Year's Eve is also now being investigated as his medicines were contaminated.

Bill Dickson is the fourth death being examined by police looking at the contamination of saline drips in June and July last year. Glasgow-born Mr Dickson, who lived in Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, died on New Year's Eve.

Police are now investigating whether the poisoning he suffered at Stepping Hill during the summer was a factor in his death.

The nurse now being held by detectives was arrested at his home in Stockport on Thursday, on suspicion of unlawfully administering or causing a person to take a noxious substance, or poison, after it was found that medical records had been tampered with on Monday.

Sources close to the investigation stressed that the arrest of the nurse forms part of a separate investigation to the four deaths, and as yet there is no link between the two. But the arrested nurse worked on the same wards at the same time the patients were poisoned last summer.

Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney, of Greater Manchester Police, said: "This is, and always has been, a search for the truth.

"It is due to the diligence of staff at the hospital that we were made aware about the potential tampering of medical records and everyone should be reassured that, like the hospital, we initiated a swift response and have consequently arrested a member of staff in relation to this matter.

"I must stress that at this time he is only being spoken to in relation to these matters and, as we have previously said, we will not and cannot rule out making further arrests in the coming days or weeks."

Previously, nurse Rebecca Leighton was arrested on suspicion of murder but released without charge six weeks later. Charges that Miss Leighton tampered with saline solution with intent to endanger life were dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service in September.

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