As part of the long-running investigation into the deaths of 15 babies which took place between June 2015 and June 2016, a female healthcare worker has been arrested on suspicion of the murder of eight babies and the attempted murder of another six. The investigation was launched in May 2017 following a substantial number of baby deaths at the neonatal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital. Investigations are currently on-going and the probe has now widened.
Detectives have confirmed that they are now investigating the deaths of 17 babies and 15 non-fatal collapses between March 2015 and July 2016. No further information has been provided in relation to the arrested female healthcare worker. Detective Inspector Paul Hughes leading the investigation into the neonatal unit, at the Countess of Chester Hospital said, “This is a highly complex and very sensitive investigation and, as you can appreciate, we need to ensure we do everything we possibly can to try to establish in detail what has led to these babies deaths and collapses.”
Given the circumstances and sensitive nature of the investigation, the police are working alongside a number of medical specialists to ensure a full and detailed enquiry is being carried out. A large number of people are being consulted for the purpose of information gathering in order to further and assist with the overall investigation.
The investigation remains active but no time scales have been given as to the conclusion of the investigation.
Support is being provided to the parents and families that have been impacted and Detective Inspector Paul Hughes stated “Parents of all the babies are continuing to be kept fully updated and are being supported throughout the process by specially trained officers.”
Ian Harvey, Hospital Medical Director has highlighted that requesting the police to undertake an investigation such as this had not been “something we did lightly, but we need to do everything we can to understand what has happened”.
He has also reassured the continued use of the neonatal unit was safe “in its current form” and it will continue to be in operation to women over 32 weeks in their pregnancy.
Fahmidah Ali, Assistant Solicitor said, “This is an extremely saddening and tragic investigation. Parents and families impacted should be provided with the right support in such distressing circumstances.”
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