June 3 2009
– Detectives investigating the suspected sabotage of IV drips used on children’s wards have arrested a woman hospital worker.
Twenty-one punctured intravenous drips were found in a secure store room at Basildon University Hospital in Essex last month.
A batch of more than 30 IV drip bags, which contain saline and sugar solutions, were also seized after fears they had been tampered with.
Arrest: An NHS worker at Basildon University Hospital is being questioned on suspicion of tampering with drip bags on children’s wards
Forensic tests are still being carried out to establish whether any toxic substances had been added to the bags.
The 21-year-old employee was arrested today on suspicion of criminal damage and contamination of goods. She was later freed on police bail.
The equipment was found the day after a three-year-old girl died at the hospital.
Police initially refused to rule out a link between the tampering and her death but a post mortem found she died of natural causes. She had been seriously ill on arrival at hospital.
Officers have been trawling through CCTV footage to establish who had access to the store room. Insiders said ‘lots of people’ had the code to open it.
Security at the 60-bed children’s unit has since been tightened.
A batch of more than 30 intravenous drip bags, which contain saline and sugar solutions, were seized by police after a member of staff discovered they were wet on April 19.
It is standard hospital procedure to pass IV bags from hand to hand before giving them to patients to check they are not leaking.
Investigation: 21 intravenous drip bags were found to be punctured and were sent off for forensic examination
Hundreds of staff who have access to the children’s wards, including nurses, pharmacists, porters and cleaners, were also to be interviewed.
All staff are already required to carry a swipe card to unlock doors to the three paediatric wards and visitors had to speak to a member of staff through an intercom to gain access.
An Essex police spokeswoman said: ‘Detectives have arrested a woman in connection with damage to IV bags at Basildon University Hospital.
‘A 21-year-old woman from Wickford has been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and an offence under the Public Order Act, which is contaminating goods.’
A woman disguised in a wig and sunglasses abducted a newborn baby boy from the hospital’s maternity ward in 1997.
Karli Hawthorne was found at a house a few miles away the next day when neighbours become suspicious.
Mother-of-three Denise Giddings, 32, was later charged with abduction and was put on probation for three years when a court heard she was suffering from serious mental delusions.
Other controversies at the hospital include an expectant mother of twins being ferried 250 miles between four hospitals in December when Basildon Hospital said it had no intensive care cots available.
And in 2007, the trust responsible for the hospital was ordered to pay a £1.3million lump sum plus £95,000 each year to a girl left brain damaged at birth in 2001 following a series of blunders.
– Andrew Levy