Doctor criticises Chester Hospital staff and questions whole Lucy Letby process

On Friday (18 August) Letby was found guilty of murdering seven babies and attempting to kill six other infants at the hospital’s neonatal unit.

Dr John Gibbs, a retired consultant paediatrician who worked at the Countess of Chester Hospital, has since questioned why managers took 11 months to involve police when suspicions were raised.

Medical director at the Countess of Chester Hospital, Dr Nigel Scawn, said the whole trust was “deeply saddened and appalled” at Letby’s crimes.

Asked if the 33-year-old could have been stopped earlier and lives could have been saved, Dr Gibbs told Sky News: “I think that needs to be looked into.

“Partly, could we have stopped Lucy Letby earlier? And I think some of the parents of the babies towards the end will be asking that.

“But then, once we have realised, we had great concerns about Lucy Letby, and she was removed from the neonatal unit, why did it take 11 months for the police to then be called in?

“That is something that, we as paediatricians have to look at, but also the managers need to answer, why it took so long for the police to come in.”

Following the verdicts, the government said it would launch an inquiry into the killings.

“That would be very useful and lessons need to be learnt,” Dr Gibbs added.

It comes after Dr Ravi Jayaram – a consultant paediatrician at the hospital who gave evidence in Letby’s court case – said there are “things that need to come out about why it took several months from concerns being raised to the top brass before any action was taken to protect babies”.

He also questioned why it took almost two years from when the first babies died for the hospital trust to contact the police.

Consultants first raised concerns about the nurse after three babies died in June 2015. As more babies collapsed and died, consultants held several meetings to raise their concerns about Letby.

Writing on Facebook, Dr Jayaram said: “The truth of what happened during that time will shock you to the core as it comes out.

“The safety of patients should come above any risk of reputational damage and sometimes the right decisions might be difficult and unpopular, but executive-level managers are paid to do just that.

“There are people out there now, still earning six-figure sums of taxpayers’ money or retired with their gold-plated pensions, who need to stand up in public to explain why they did not want to listen and do the right thing, to acknowledge that their actions potentially facilitated a mass-murderer and to apologise to the families involved in all of this.

“However, I suspect the response will be fudge and misinformation and it is now my mission moving forwards to make sure that they are held to account.”

Letby was eventually moved into a non-patient-facing role, after the collapse of a child.

Consultants, including Dr Jayaram, were also forced to apologise to Letby, according to ITV News.

In a letter to Letby seen by the broadcaster, the consultants felt pressured to write: “Dear Lucy, we would like to apologise for any inappropriate comments that may have been made during this difficult period. We are very sorry for the stress and upset that you have experienced in the last year.

“Please be reassured that patient safety has been our absolute priority during this difficult time.”

Dr Nigel Scawn added: “We are extremely sorry that these crimes were committed at our hospital, and our thoughts continue to be with all the families and loved ones of babies who came to harm or died.

“We cannot begin to understand what they have been through.”

He added: “Since Lucy Letby worked at our hospital, we have made significant changes to our services and I want to provide reassurance to every patient that may access our services that they can have confidence in the care that they will receive.”

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