NHS health worker, 51, is charged with nine sexual assaults against seven women at Blackpool Victoria Hospital
A hospital worker at Blackpool Victoria Hospital has been charged with nine sexual assaults against members of staff and patients.
Hernando Puno, 51, of Layton, Blackpool, is accused of carrying out the attacks over nearly a decade from November 2012 and March 2021.
The charge comes after police began investigating allegations of mistreatment and neglect on the hospital’s stroke unit.
Their enquiries led to the identification of other suspected offences, including the suspicious death of a 75-year-old woman from Blackpool called Valerie Kneale.
A spokesman for Lancashire police said: ‘Today, following consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, Hernando Puno, 51, of Layton, Blackpool, has been charged with nine counts of sexual assault related to seven women.
‘The charges are alleged to have occurred at the hospital between November 2012 and March 2021.’
Puno has been bailed to appear at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court on January 4, 2022
Stroke patient Valerie Kneale, 75, (pictured), died from a haemorrhage caused by a non-medical related internal injury
Hernando Puno, 51, of Layton, Blackpool, has been charged with nine offences
Police say the charges are not linked to the ongoing investigation into allegations of mistreatment and neglect.
Officers added the investigation into the death of Valerie Kneale continues.
An inquest into Mrs Kneale’s death earlier this year heard she had been admitted to the hospital following a stroke and had later broken her leg when falling from a chair.
The worker faced accusations of serious sexual assaults against patients and staff
Lancashire Police confirmed the worker has also been suspended by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. Pictured: Blackpool Victoria Hospital
The autopsy revealed that although Mrs Kneale did have a significant stroke, the pathologist did not think it was the cause of death.
Mr Wilson adjourned the hearing for five months while police continue investigations.
Mrs Kneales’ family, who did not attend, has been informed.
Mr Wilson said: ‘It is clearly necessary for this court to further adjourn the investigation into Mrs Kneales’ death in order to allow the police to continue with their investigations.
‘We ought not to hold an inquest while the police are actively pursuing their own investigation.’