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Healthcare worker arrested over murder of eight babies at Cheshire neonatal unit

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Post time: 2018-07-03 18:18:50
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Woman also suspected of attempting to kill further six babies at Countess of Chester hospital

The Countess of Chester hospital. Parents of all the babies involved are being updated and supported by specialist offices, police said. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo
A healthcare worker has been arrested on suspicion of murdering eight babies and attempting to kill another six at the Countess of Chester hospital in Cheshire.
Cheshire police said the woman was arrested on Tuesday morning and was in custody.
The force said it was investigating the deaths of 17 babies and 15 “non-fatal collapses” at the hospital’s neonatal unit between June 2015 and June 2016.
DI Paul Hughes, who is in charge of the investigation, said: “Whilst this is a significant step forward in our enquiries it is important to remember that the investigation is very much active and ongoing at this stage.

“There are no set timescales for this coming to a conclusion but we remain committed to carrying out a thorough investigation as soon as possible.”
An investigation was launched in May 2017 into the potentially suspicious deaths of 15 babies and six non-fatal collapses.
However, the force said on Tuesday that the inquiry had widened to include the deaths of 17 babies and 15 non-fatal collapses between March 2016 and July 2016.
Hughes added: “We recognise that this investigation has a huge impact on all of the families, staff, and patients at the hospital as well as members of the public.Parents of all the babies involved were being updated and supported by specialist officers, police said.
“This is an extremely difficult time for all the families and it is important to remember that, at the heart of this, there are a number of bereaved families seeking answers as to what happened to their children.
“At this stage we are unable to go into any further details about the investigation but as soon as we are able to provide any further updates we will do.”
Ian Harvey, medical director of the Countess of Chester hospital, said the hospital was supporting the police with the investigation.
“Asking the police to look into this was not something we did lightly, but we need to do everything we can to understand what has happened here and get the answers we and the families so desperately want,” he said.
“The Countess is now equivalent to a level one special care baby unit and we are confident the unit is safe to continue in its current form.”
A May report by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health found that staffing at the hospital’s neonatal unit, which reported a “higher than usual” number of baby deaths, was inadequate.
Two babies died in the unit in 2013 and three died in 2014. There were a further eight deaths in 2015 and five in 2016.
The review found no definitive explanation for an increase in mortality rates, but identified significant gaps in medical and nursing rotas, poor decision-making and insufficient senior cover.
Last July the Countess of Chester hospital stopped providing care for babies born earlier than 32 weeks after the review suggested 24 recommendations for improvements.

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