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Arrest Made in 'Highly Complex' Probe of 8 Infant Deaths

'Health care professional' is accused of killing newborns in UK neonatal unit
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2018 9:06 AM CDT
In this file photo, Countess of Chester Hospital in Chester, England, is seen.   (Peter Byrne/PA FILE via AP)

(Newser) – Seventeen newborns died at a UK hospital over a 15-month period, while another 15 suffered "non-fatal collapses"—and police say they've finally taken a "significant step forward" in figuring out what happened. The BBC and CBS News report an arrest has been made of a female "health care professional," accused of killing eight infants and trying to murder six others. The development came as part of "Operation Hummingbird," an investigation taken up by local authorities after the unexplained baby deaths at Countess of Chester Hospital between March 2015 and July 2016, per the Washington Post. It's been a "highly complex and very sensitive" probe, per Detective Inspector Paul Hughes, who didn't offer further details on the health care worker or her role at the hospital.

The investigation was jump-started in May 2017, after the hospital reported a higher-than-normal mortality rate in its neonatal unit housing preemies and infants with special needs. Medical experts tried to assess the situation but came up short for a conclusive explanation as to why the babies died. The police were then commissioned to "rule out unnatural causes of death," per CBS. "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," the hospital's medical director, Ian Harvey, says, per the Post. Still, Harvey notes the neonatal unit is "safe to continue in its current form," though it now transfers babies born before 32 weeks to other hospitals. (A former Texas nurse was accused of killing up to 60 young kids.)

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