• Police got reports of mistreatment and neglect on the hospital's stroke unit
  • An inquiry was launched and several postmortem examinations we conducted
  • Valerie Kneale's suspicious death was uncovered and a murder investigation began
  • Probe into Kneale's death led to the arrest of a healthcare professional

A healthcare professional was arrested on Wednesday in connection with an ongoing investigation into a patient's murder, rape and sexual assault on the stroke unit of a U.K. hospital.

Lancashire Police said the arrest follows the investigation into the death of Valerie Kneale on the stroke unit of Blackpool Victora Hospital in 2018 due to hemorrhage caused by a "non-medical related internal injury," reported The Guardian.

In November 2018, authorities launched an investigation to look into the allegations of mistreatment and neglect on the hospital's stroke unit. Several postmortem examinations were done, including one on Kneale. Eventually, it became clear that Kneale had died from a non-medical-related injury.

The discovery prompted a murder investigation, during which officials got information on the cases of sexual assault committed against two patients and a healthcare professional who was working on the stroke unit.

According to a spokesperson for the force, the arrested man was already in custody on suspicion of murder, two offenses of rape and one offense of sexual assault. The said man has also been suspended by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

Lancashire Police Detective Chief Inspector Jill Johnston confirmed the arrest. "We have today arrested a man in connection with a number of serious offenses. We understand this will cause some significant concern in the community but please be reassured we have a dedicated team of officers conducting a number of inquiries, she said.

Johnston also assured the public that a major probe was ongoing. "These are complicated and sensitive allegations which we are committed to investigating thoroughly. We are offering support to those involved and they are being updated throughout the process by trained officers," she added.

The police have also urged people who have any information or have worked on the hospital's stroke unit to come forward.

Earlier, four healthcare workers were arrested for poisoning patients in the stroke unit. One man and three women were held after suspicions were raised about the way patients were treated in the hospital.

Two women and a man previously arrested as part of the inquiry were released under investigation.

The seven suspects, who are all healthcare professionals, have been suspended as part of safeguarding procedures.

The poison plot investigation was launched after a whistleblower raised the alarm about the crime, according to a news report. Officials who interrogated hospital workers believe elderly patients were given prescription-only drugs to keep them heavily sedated at night.

The drug, Zopiclone, was widely used in the stroke unit, the report added.

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