Lucy Letby police launch probe into corporate manslaughter at the Countess of Chester Hospital after murder trial
The hospital where killer nurse Lucy Letby murdered babies is being investigated by police for corporate manslaughter, it emerged today.
Cheshire Constabulary said the force is conducting a corporate manslaughter investigation at the Countess of Chester Hospital following her conviction for murdering seven babies and trying to kill six others.
Detective Superintendent Simon Blackwell said the investigation would examine the period in which Letby carried out her killing spree – June 2015 to June 2016 – and examine the conduct of those in ‘senior leadership’ positions at the hospital.
He said ‘no individuals’ are currently being investigated for gross negligence manslaughter.
Hospital bosses had as many as ten opportunities to act on concerns that Letby was linked to a spike in deaths or collapses on the Countess of Chester Hospital’s neo-natal unit before police were finally called in.
Lucy Letby was sentenced to a whole life order after jurors convicted her of the murders of seven babies and the attempted murders of six others
The neonatal was sentenced to a whole life order after jurors convicted her of the murders of seven babies and the attempted murders of six others at the Countess of Chester Hospital
Announcing the probe, Det Sup Blackwell said: ‘Following the lengthy trial, subsequent conviction of Lucy Letby and an assessment by senior investigative officers, I can confirm that Cheshire Constabulary is carrying out an investigation into corporate manslaughter at the Countess of Chester Hospital.
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‘The investigation will focus on the indictment period of the charges for Lucy Letby, from June 2015 to June 2016, and consider areas including senior leadership and decision making to determine whether any criminality has taken place.
‘At this stage we are not investigating any individuals in relation to gross negligence manslaughter. The investigation is in the very early stages and we are unable to go into any further details or answer specific questions at this time.
‘We recognise that this investigation will have a significant impact on a number of different stakeholders including the families in this case and we are continuing to work alongside and support them during this process.’
Letby was handed a whole life order following a 10-month trial.
It heard how nine babies might have been saved or escaped harm had hospital managers and doctors not missed vital opportunities to stop her killing spree.
Crucially, doctors failed to appreciate the significance of blood test results from two baby boys – treated eight months apart – which proved that someone on the ward was poisoning children with insulin.
Letby injected babies with air, overfed them milk and assaulted them. Pictured: The maternity unit where Letby operated
When consultants finally became suspicious and demanded Letby be removed from her frontline job, hospital bosses refused to believe she was to blame.
Apparently desperate to protect the reputation of the trust, bosses moved her into an office job.
READ MORE – Warped Lucy Letby ‘fans’ write to killer nurse as she rots in jail
But they fought to get her reinstated onto the neo-natal unit – even insisting senior medics write her a letter of apology when a formal employment grievance she pursued apparently found little evidence she had done anything wrong.
In the end, consultants were so terrified about having her anywhere near their patients that they demanded CCTV be installed on the unit.
They eventually persuaded executives to go to police in May 2017 and blocked her return.
Following Letby’s conviction in August, Dr Stephen Brearey, the consultant paediatrician then in charge of the unit, accused hospital management of a ‘cover-up’.
His colleague, TV medic Dr Ravi Jayaram, said lives could have been saved had managers acted on their concerns sooner and accused them of failing to act to protect the hospital’s reputation.
Dr John Gibbs, another consultant paediatrician at the hospital, said: ‘In the 11 months before the police got involved, after we raised concerns, senior managers were extremely reluctant to involve police, to discuss what was happening.
‘We had to keep insisting the police be involved.’
Cheshire Police are reviewing the medical notes of 4,000 babies admitted to the neo-natal units of the Countess of Chester Hospital and Liverpool Women’s Hospital during the ‘footprint’ of Letby’s five-year nursing career.
Their investigation, code-named Operation Hummingbird, is ongoing and they have not ruled out Letby being charged with more crimes.
Following the trial, sources told The Guardian that detectives had identified around 30 other babies, in addition to the 17 who featured in the trial, who may have been harmed by Letby. They all survived.
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