Nurse Rebecca Leighton suspended following deaths

Rebecca Leighton
Image caption Rebecca Leighton is accused of tampering with medical products

A nurse charged following the deaths of several patients at a hospital in Greater Manchester has been suspended by the nursing regulator.

Rebecca Leighton, 27, faces seven charges including criminal damage with intent to endanger life after the deaths at Stepping Hill Hospital.

The charges relate to the alleged tampering of saline ampoules, saline bags and medical products.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has suspended Ms Leighton for 18 months.

A spokesman said it was an interim measure pending a full investigation, and was normal when a nurse or midwife was facing criminal charges.

Dr John Unsworth, chair of the council's investigating committee, said: "The panel consider that these are very serious allegations which strike at the heart of the principle that patients should be able to trust nurses to safeguard their health and well-being and do nothing which would endanger their safety."

Death ruled out

Ms Leighton, of Buxton Road in Heaviley, Stockport is accused of three counts of criminal damage with intent to endanger life, three counts of being reckless as to whether life was being endangered and one of theft of medicine.

She appeared at Manchester Crown Court on Monday, when a provisional trial date was set for 28 February.

She is next due to appear in court on 17 October for a plea and case management hearing.

Last week, Greater Manchester Police said it was no longer investigating the death of one of five patients at the centre of the tampering probe.

The family of George Keep, 84, of Cheadle, was told his death no longer formed part of the inquiry.

Police continue to probe the suspicious deaths of Tracey Arden, 44, Arnold Lancaster, 71, Derek Weaver, 83, and Vera Pearson, 84.

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