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Murder uncovered by weekly newspaper’s FoI request

Another local newspaper has used the Freedom of Information Act to uncover previously unreported serious crimes – including murder.

Last week HTFP reported on how a manslaughter investigation into the death of a woman at a Sussex hospital came to light after The Argus, Brighton, submitted a freedom of information request.

Now the Warrington Guardian has used FoI to reveal that a murder was committed by a hospital outpatient on its patch.

The newspaper also discovered the previously unreported death of a child and that of a community patient who had been receiving treatment.

The incidents were logged by Warrington and Halton hospitals and The 5 Boroughs Partnership between April and June this year and subsequently registered with the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA).

They came to light after the FoI request logged with the NPSA by the Guardian’s health reporter, Hannah all-Taraboulsy.

Guardian editor Nicola Priest said:  “We were shocked to find there was a murder named as a ‘serious incident’ in the investigation.

“Our health reporter was given a tip-off about the scale of serious incidents at the trusts and the sort of things logged but we never expected the phrase homicide to come back in the papers.

“It shows what can be uncovered through persistent use of the Freedom of Investigation legislation.”

Other hospital incidents which came to light included a surgical error in April and a hospital-acquired case of superbug C. difficile in May.

The case has been highlighted by David Higgerson, Trinity Mirror’s head of multimedia who also runs a blog about FoI and data journalism.

David wrote on his blog:  “It suggests that the NPSA may be a good starting point for other journalists looking to find out what else hospitals have been keeping under wraps.”

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