- Chief medical officer issues alert to all NHS organisations
- The Metropolitan Police has received a number of reports of packages received at London hospitals
- It is believed 25 trusts received a brown paper bag containing an unlabelled fluid
An alert has been sent by the chief medical officer to all NHS organisations after a suspicious package containing liquid was sent to a number of NHS hospitals, HSJ has learned.
Milton Keynes University Hospital was one of up to 25 trusts which received a package sent to its research and development department on Wednesday from an organisation calling itself “The Cyrus Project.”
The Metropolitan Police confirmed today that two men were arrested in North London on suspicion of Malicious Communications Act offences yesterday.
The chief medical officer’s alert, which was sent to NHS trusts, clinical commissioning groups and other organisations today, warned a “number of unsolicited packages, with accompanying literature requesting testing” had been sent to hospitals.
The alert added: ”Counter Terrorism Policing are managing the response and forensic testing is currently underway on the substances received. Further advice will be issued once the testing results are confirmed.
”Public Health England has confirmed initial testing on packages received to date shows it is highly unlikely the substance contained therein is hazardous.”
Internal NHS emails seen by HSJ reveal a note was included in the package sent to Milton Keynes Hospital that said it was from a Mr Iraj Mohebbi. It also stated that similar samples have been sent to 25 other trusts.
Chief medical officer Sally Davies issued advice to organisations detailing what to do if they receive a suspicious package.
Dr Davies said they should:
- Handle the package with care, wearing nitrile gloves and quarantine it in a secure leak-proof container.
- Wash your hands, or any part of your body that comes into contact with the package, with water.
- Alert your local NHS England EPRR contact that you have received a package.
- Notify Public Health England via firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Contact your local police force via 101 and inform them you are in receipt of a package.
A spokesman for Milton Keynes University Hospital Foundation Trust said: “Staff followed the usual operational protocol, which includes alerting the police and NHS England.
“National Operations Centre tested the liquid and it was found to be non-suspicious and non-hazardous. It was therefore disposed of appropriately,” she added.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed it had received “a number of reports relating to suspicious packages being received at hospitals in London”.
“Specialist officers have attended the hospitals and are assessing the packages. None of the packages assessed so far have been found to contain anything hazardous,” a spokesman said.
Officers from the Met’s counter terrorism command arrested a 29-year-old man from Brent and a 37-year-old man from Harrow at approximately 18.45hrs yesterday.
They were both arrested and taken into custody at a north London police station. They were subsequently bailed to return to a north London police station in late August.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed inquiries are ongoing.
Update: This article was updated at 2.30pm to include details of arrests made by police.
Information supplied to HSJ