NHS bosses who failed to stop Lucy Letby have ‘blood on their hands’: Doctor calls for ‘grossly negligent’ hospital executives to be probed for corporate manslaughter after they said links between baby deaths and killer nurse were ‘coincidence’
- Consultants said babies could have been saved if management acted sooner
- READ MORE: Ten missed opportunities to stop Britain’s worst modern child killer
NHS bosses who failed to stop Lucy Letby have ‘blood on their hands’, a senior doctor has claimed.
David E. Ward made the claim amid calls from colleagues for ‘grossly negligent’ hospital executives to be investigated for corporate manslaughter after they suggested links between the deaths of seven babies and the killer nurse were ‘coincidence’.
In one such example, in May 2016, when she had already killed five babies and tried to murder several others, the Countess of Chester Hospital’s chief executive Tony Chambers told the Mail there was ‘no evidence’ other than a ‘gut feeling’ that Letby was behind the attacks.
Similarly, health leaders noted that Letby was the only employee on duty when each baby collapsed, but neo-natal unit lead consultant Dr Stephen Brearey said at the time: ‘It can’t be Lucy, not nice Lucy’.
And Eirian Powell, the nursing manager of the neonatal unit, described the association between Letby and the unexpected baby deaths as ‘unfortunate’.
Dr Ward, a retired cardiac electrophysiologist who now supports whistleblowers in the healthcare service, told the Telegraph that he requested an urgent meeting with medical director Ian Harvey and director of nursing, Alison Kelly, but it was ignored for three months, during which time another two babies almost died.
He said: ‘They are not accountable to anyone. They’ve got blood on their hands.
Bosses at the Countess of Chester Hospital also blamed other NHS services for a number of the unexplained deaths. Consultants who raised concerns about Letby (pictured) as far back as 2015 have said babies could have been saved if hospital management had listened and acted sooner
The prosecution’s lead medical expert, retired consultant paediatrician Dewi Evans (pictured), says he will write to Cheshire Constabulary to ask it to investigate ‘grossly negligent’ bosses for not acting on fears about Letby while she was on a killing spree
In May 2016, when Letby had already killed five babies and attempted to murder several others, chief executive Tony Chambers (pictured above) told the Mail there was ‘no evidence,’ other than coincidence and a ‘gut feeling’ that Letby was behind the attacks
‘A responsible, intelligent manager should have said, ‘Look, we may have a problem here. We should start doing something about it now. I suggest that we perhaps take her off the wards for the time being’.
‘That’s the way any intelligent, non-confrontational person who wants to solve the problem would go about it.’
It comes as the prosecution’s lead medical expert, retired consultant paediatrician Dewi Evans, says he will write to Cheshire Constabulary to ask it to investigate ‘grossly negligent’ bosses for not acting on fears about Letby while she was on a killing spree, the Observer reported.
READ MORE: Lucy Letby’s bosses at Countess of Chester Hospital REVEALED: Those in charge while killer was free to murder and attack newborn babies
Dr Brearey went back to management in the hours after Baby P’s death on June 24, 2016, his request to have Letby taken off the neo-natal unit was turned down flat.
He told the Guardian that deaths could arguably have been avoided from as early as February 2016 if executives had ‘responded appropriately’ to an urgent meeting request from concerned doctors.
Karen Rees, the duty executive in urgent care, is said to have insisted there was ‘no evidence’ against Letby and said she would be ‘happy’ to take responsibility if something happened.
Shockingly, doctors were even told to apologise to Letby and stop making allegations against her.
Letby, 33, was convicted on Friday of the murder of seven babies and the attempted murder of six more during her shifts on the neonatal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital between 2015 and 2016.
When lead consultant Stephen Brearey (pictured here) went to management in the hours after Baby P’s death on June 24, 2016, his request to have Letby taken off the neo-natal unit was turned down flat
A meeting was held between neo-natal unit lead consultant Dr Stephen Brearey, Eirian Powell, the nursing manager on the neonatal unit, and Alison Kelly (pictured here), the then director of nursing, when it was noted that Letby was the only employee on duty when each baby collapsed
Karen Rees, the duty executive in urgent care, is said to have insisted there was ‘no evidence’ against Letby and said she would be ‘happy’ to take responsibility if something happened (pictured at her retirement party in 2018)
Police were only contacted in 2017 – but even then detectives didn’t expect to discover killer nurse was to blame.
Ian Harvey was medical director in charge of the Countess of Chester Hospital when Lucy Letby carried out her sickening attacks.
READ MORE: TV doctor Dr Ravi Jayaram says he was ordered to apologise to Lucy Letby after warning hospital bosses about her
The 64-year-old boss enjoyed a generous salary package of as much as £175,000 over the year when her senseless killing spree took place.
He was in post when the hospital called in police to investigate in May 2017, but announced his intention to retire in early 2018.
Then, in July 2018, Mr Harvey issued a statement after the shocking news that a nurse had been arrested on suspicion of murdering eight babies and attempting to murder six more.
He retired just weeks later at the age of 60 with a pension pot worth £1.8million after more than two decades at the trust — six years of which were spent as medical director.
Mr Harvey addressed the hospital board shortly before his departure. ‘There is no doubt this team has been tested. It’s all Tony’s fault,’ he joked. ‘I think a couple of years ago he said, ‘Well, it’s all been fairly easy, hasn’t it? We haven’t really been tested’. We have.’
Back when Dr Brearey expressed his concerns, another consultant, Dr Ravi Jayaram, continued to express concerns to management as more sudden and unexpected collapses followed.
Ian Harvey (pictured here receiving a retirement gift) was medical director in charge of the Countess of Chester Hospital when Lucy Letby carried out her sickening attacks
Another consultant, Dr Ravi Jayaram (pictured), continued to express concerns to management as more sudden and unexpected collapses followed
He and Dr Evans spoke of hospital executives’ reluctance to involve the police for fear of damaging the trust’s reputation.
READ MORE: NHS bosses ‘didn’t allow investigators to see clinical notes’ into baby deaths at Cheshire hospital where killer nurse Lucy Letby murdered seven babies, expert claims
Dr Evans was tasked by Cheshire Police to look at a series of collapses on the neonatal unit of the Countess of Chester Hospital in 2015 and 2016.
He said that bosses could have helped to avert three murders if they acted with greater urgency on concerns.
He told the Observer: ‘They were grossly negligent.
‘I shall write to Cheshire police and ask them, from what I have heard following the end of the trial, that I believe that we should now investigate a number of managerial people in relation to issues of corporate manslaughter.
‘I think this is a matter that demands an investigation into corporate manslaughter.’
Dr Evans said the police should also investigate the hospital in ‘relation to criminal negligence’.
He added: ‘Failing to act was grossly irresponsible – let’s make it as clear as that.
‘We are talking about a serious emergency. It’s grossly irresponsible.’
It comes as the former chair of the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust claimed that the board was ‘misled’ by hospital executives.
Sir Duncan Nichol said the board was told there was ‘no criminal activity pointing to any one individual’ despite concerns, BBC News reported.
Sir Duncan Nichol (left) said the board was told there was ‘no criminal activity pointing to any one individual’ despite concerns, BBC News reported. Letby (right) went on a year-long killing spree at the Countess of Chester Hospital
The board was not made aware of the rise in incidents on the neonatal unit until July 2016 and at a meeting it then agreed for the deaths to be externally investigated, according to the report.
Sir Duncan told the BBC: ‘I believe that the board was misled in December 2016 when it received a report on the outcome of the external, independent case reviews.
READ MORE: ‘If you want to call that a cover up, then that’s a cover up’: Doctor who raised the alarm over Lucy Letby accuses NHS trust of ‘engineering narrative’ to avoid police action
‘We were told explicitly that there was no criminal activity pointing to any one individual, when in truth the investigating neonatologist had stated that she had not had the time to complete the necessary in-depth case reviews.’
In response, the trust’s then chief executive Tony Chambers reportedly said that ‘what was shared with the board was honest and open and represented our best understanding of the outcome of the reviews at the time’.
Dr Susan Gilby, another former chief executive of the trust, told the Sunday Times that a full public inquiry was required.
An independent inquiry into Letby’s crime was announced by the Government on Friday.
But Slater and Gordon, which is representing two of the families involved, said that a non-statutory inquiry ‘is not good enough’ and needs to have a ‘statutory basis to have real teeth’.
Dr Gilby said she knew with a week of starting at the trust in 2018 that police needed to be involved, according to the Sunday Times.
She also told BBC News that she shared concerns the board may have been misled.
Dr Gilby also said deaths had not been reported appropriately, meaning the high fatality rate could not be picked up by the wider NHS system.
Dr Susan Gilby took over as deputy chief executive a month after Letby’s arrest and was shocked at what she found
Dr John Gibbs – a former senior clinician at the Countess of Chester Hospital – has blamed hospital managers for causing delays to the police investigation
Dr Nigel Scawn (pictured), medical director at the Countess of Chester Hospital, said on Friday: ‘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’
Meanwhile, Dr John Gibbs – a former senior clinician at the Countess of Chester Hospital – said he blamed hospital managers for causing delays to the police investigation.
‘It made the job more difficult for the police investigating these alleged or suspected episodes of deliberate harm when they were doing it several years later,’ he told Channel 4 News.
READ MORE: Inside the sprawling Lucy Letby investigation: Even when the hospital called them in, detectives didn’t expect to discover killer nurse was to blame…until the ‘chilling’ reality began to unfold
‘And all of us professional witnesses – doctors and nurses – were giving statements several years after the events. Now, we always keep medical and nursing notes – and we could refer to those to remind ourselves of what happened at the time.
‘But as for who was doing what, when; who was standing where, when; who was last with the patient before they collapsed? Trying to remember that to give the information to the police as part of their investigation several years after the event was very difficult.’
Sir Duncan and Dr Gilby reportedly commissioned consultancy firm Facere Melius in 2019 to investigate the trust’s handling of the Letby allegations but this has still not been published.
Police said they are reviewing the care of 4,000 babies who were admitted to the Countess of Chester – and also Liverpool Women’s Hospital when Letby had two work placements – going as far back as 2012.
Letby is due to be sentenced on Monday but the serial killer indicated she will not take part in the hearing at Manchester Crown Court.
Dr Nigel Scawn, medical director at the Countess of Chester Hospital, said on Friday: ‘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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