James Paget Hospital murder probe: MPs question 'delay'

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Media captionPolice are looking into the possibility Mr May had been given a drugs overdose

MPs say they are concerned it took 10 days for a murder inquiry to start after a hospital "whistleblower" spoke out about a patient's death.

James May, 76, died at the James Paget Hospital on 20 September. On Saturday, a member of staff was arrested and bailed on suspicion of murder.

MP Therese Coffey said the Norfolk hospital must look at the delay in reporting the death to police.

The hospital said facts had to be clarified before taking further action.

Mr May, a retired driving instructor from Great Yarmouth, was taken to James Paget Hospital in Gorleston after suffering a suspected heart attack while playing bowls.

Detectives are looking at whether he was given a drug overdose before his death.

A post-mortem examination revealed Mr May died of heart failure, with police waiting on the results of further toxicology tests.

'Genuinely nice chap'

Image caption Ms Coffey said she was pleased a worker came forward

Ms Coffey, the Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal, said: "I'm pleased a whistleblower came forward and was prepared to say what they thought had gone wrong.

"What will concern people is why it seems to have taken 10 days from the incident happening through to it being reported to police.

"Where the trust will have to assess itself is why it took so long to get up the chain of command, and for that decision to then be made.

"While that's a key question... I do think we have to have some patience while the police investigation is played out."

BBC Look East's chief reporter Kim Riley said Ms Coffey's Conservative colleagues Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, and Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis, were also seeking answers.

'Isolated incident'

Mr May's nephew, Kevin May, 28, from near Portsmouth, said in a statement that the family was "saddened" to discover that there are suspicions surrounding his death.

Image caption Christine Allen has sought to "reassure" patients

"Jimmy was a wonderful uncle to me and, although we lived many miles apart, we regularly kept in touch by Skype because he loved to see how my baby girl was growing up.

"Jimmy was a sociable man and loved his bowling and going out on his boat - his death came as a big surprise."

Christine Allen, the hospital's chief executive, said: "When such a serious allegation is made, it's really crucial that the facts are clarified before taking further action.

"That's what we did - we then referred to police when we felt that was appropriate."

A male middle-aged member of staff was arrested on Saturday and bailed until November, and is not currently working at the hospital.

Det Ch Insp Paul Durham urged anyone with concerns about hospital incidents to contact Norfolk Police.

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