Bell Pottinger North advises Stepping Hill Hospital over saline drip deaths

Stepping Hill Hospital is using Bell Pottinger North to help it handle crisis comms around the saline drip poisoning investigation.

Stepping Hill Hospital: saline drip poisoning investigation
Stepping Hill Hospital: saline drip poisoning investigation

Police arrested 27-year-old Stepping Hill nurse Rebecca Leighton on Wednesday on suspicion of murder after five unexplained deaths in the hospital.

Bags of saline were found sabotaged with insulin at the hospital in Stockport. No charges have been brought against Leighton so far.

The hospital, which is part of Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, has been using Bell Pottinger North for help with the crisis comms around the issue since last Wednesday. The agency wrote the initial statement to the press last Thursday.

Bell Pottinger North associate director Richard Clein has led the crisis comms, and was based in the hospital from last Friday until Tuesday, working on statements, Q&A documents and press coaching for the chief executive, Dr Chris Burke.

Clein said: 'The reality is that in this situation the police will take the lead on comms - our job is to ensure our messaging is consistent and to ensure we are reiterating the statement that the hospital is a safe place. it's about reassuring patients and staff as well.'

Clein added that in the past 24 hours, the agency's role had developed into handling the hospital's press office function. 

Bell Pottinger North has a retained relationhip with Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, to provide support at variable levels as requested.

Two further deaths were announced to be part of the investigation by police yesterday - an 83-year-old man, named as Alfred Weaver, and an 84-year-old woman.

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