Healthcare Worker Charged with Nine Counts of Sexual Assault at Blackpool Hospital

December 02, 2021

A healthcare professional has been charged with sexually assaulting seven women at a hospital.

Lancashire Police said Hernando Puno, 51, was charged with nine counts of sexual assault relating to seven women following the investigation at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

Puno, of Layton, Blackpool, has been bailed to appear at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court on January 4 next year.

The alleged offences happened at the hospital between November 2012 and March 2021, police said.

An investigation was launched in November 2018 after allegations of mistreatment and neglect on the hospital’s stroke unit, and it led police to start a murder investigation into the death of 75-year-old Valerie Kneale.

Alleged sexual offences on patients and staff were also reported to officers.

Last March, a healthcare professional was arrested on suspicion of murder, two offences of rape and one of sexual assault, police said.

The man, who was suspended by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, was re-arrested in connection with further offences of rape and sexual assault in July.

A force spokesman said the inquiry was not linked to an ongoing investigation into allegations of suspected poisoning of patients on the unit.

The murder investigation into the death of Mrs Kneale, who died at the hospital on November 16 2018, is ongoing, police said.

Anyone with information in connection with the investigation can contact police on 101 or independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org.

This article contains information from PA Media.

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