Police have charged a 39 year old man who started a fire at an NHS hospital with manslaughter after the death of an elderly patient.

Staffordshire Police said Thomas Ashcroft, of Musgrave Crescent, Sheffield, had been charged with manslaughter following the fire at University Hospital of North Midlands Trust in June.

The fire on 7 June led to the evacuation of patients from Royal Stoke University Hospital. Patients had to wait in their beds or on mattresses outside the main hospital building until it was safe to go back inside.

Mr Ashcroft was initially charged with two counts of arson and intent to endanger life after fires were deliberately started at the hospital and nearby Staffordshire University.

The manslaughter charge follows the death of May Maxfield, 89, from Newcastle-under-Lyme. A post-mortem found Ms Maxfield might have died because of the fire and subsequent evacuation.

Mr Ashcroft appeared at Stafford Crown Court today where he was remanded in custody.

A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for 29 September.