Tuesday, 26 Sep 2023

Where the highly paid hospital bosses who ignored Letby warnings are now

Lucy Letby sentenced to whole-life order

Serial baby-killer Lucy Letby will die behind bars, as the absent murderer’s sentence was passed today in front of her victims’ families.

The ex-neonatal nurse at the Countess of Chester Hospital was found guilty just last week of murdering seven babies and attempting to kill another six between 2015 and 2016.

Today she chose to swerve her sentencing at Manchester Crown Court, where impact statements were read aloud to the courtroom, much to the fury of the nation.

But just how was the killer’s vile behaviour eventually picked up on? It was Letby’s presence when collapses in the neonatal unit were noticed. They were flagged to the senior management by the unit’s head consultant in late June 2015.

Letby, 33, was not removed from active duty until July the following year.

READ MORE: Dr Shola claims fact Letby was white meant hospital bosses ‘fell for her tears’

During the nine-month trial of the serial killer at Manchester Crown Court, consultants repeated voiced concerns to the hospital about more unexplained and unusual collapses.

But Letby was not removed from the unit until after the deaths of two triplet boys and the collapse of another baby boy on three successive days in June 2016.

She was confined to clerical work and in September 2016 and had the audacity to register a grievance procedure.

It emerged during legal argument in the trial – in the absence of the jury – that the grievance procedure was resolved in Letby’s favour in December 2016.

Letby was due to return to the neonatal unit in March 2017, but the move did not take place as soon afterwards, police were contacted by the hospital trust. No babies died between when Letby was removed from the unit in July 2016 and when police were called in by the hospital in May 2017.

She was suspended on full pay from the moment she was arrested in July 2018. It is understood she was sacked when she was charged in November 2020.

Medical director Ian Harvey

At the time Letby carried out the attacks, the hospital’s medical director was Ian Harvey. He retired in August 2018 – a month after Letby was first arrested – after he reportedly notified trust chief executive Tony Chambers at the start of that year of his intention to retire.

He had held other managerial roles within the trust and was medical director for six years. Dr Stephen Brearey, a lead paediatrician at the hospital, told BBC News he requested an urgent meeting with Mr Harvey and the director of nursing, Alison Kelly, about Lucy Letby’s behaviour.

Dr Brearey told the BBC despite himself raising clear concerns, Letby was allowed to continue working.

In a statement on Friday, Mr Harvey, who was said to be paid up to £175,000 a year, said: “At this time my thoughts are with the babies whose treatment has been the focus of the trial and with their parents and relatives who have been through something unimaginable, and I am sorry for all their suffering.

“As medical director I was determined to keep the baby unit safe and support our staff. I wanted the reviews and investigations carried out so that we could tell the parents what had happened to their children.

“An inquiry has been announced and I will help with it in whatever way I can.”

Tony Chambers, former trust chief executive

During Letby’s reign of terror, the trust chief executive was Tony Chambers, who served six years in his post before he resigned in September 2018.

In a statement following the verdicts, Mr Chambers said: “As chief executive, my focus was on the safety of the baby unit and the wellbeing of patients and staff. I was open and inclusive as I responded to information and guidance.”

He said the best place for “lessons to be learnt” would be the independent inquiry, which has been ordered by the Government to investigate the circumstances behind the crimes.

Mr Chambers added: “I will co-operate fully and openly with the independent inquiry which has now been ordered by the Government.”

Ex director of nursing, Alison Kelly

Former director of nursing Alison Kelly left the Countess of Chester in 2021 and works in a similar position at the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Salford Royal Hospital and Royal Oldham Hospital.

Mrs Kelly, who trust accounts said she was paid £130,000, was accused in court of failing to act even when doctors raised ‘serious concerns’, the Telegraph reports. She has since been suspended from her current role.

Dr Ravi Jayaram told Manchester Crown Court: “We had significant concerns from the autumn of 2015. They were on the radar of someone as senior as the executive director of nursing as far back as October 2015.

“As clinicians, we put our faith in the system, in senior management to escalate concerns and investigate them. The initial response was, ‘it’s unlikely that anything is going on. We’ll see what happens’.”

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In a statement to The Telegraph Ms Kelly said: “It is impossible to imagine the heartache suffered by the families involved and my thoughts are very much with them.

“These are truly terrible crimes and I am deeply sorry that this happened to them. We owe it to the babies and their families to learn lessons and I will fully cooperate with the independent inquiry announced.”

Karen Rees, a nursing executive at the hospital, was accused in court of ignoring three warnings from a doctor around the deaths of two baby brothers who died under Letby’s care.

According to evidence given in court by a senior medic, Ms Rees refused to stand Letby down from her duties and said there was no evidence to support doing so.

The Telegraph reports Ms Rees was handed a nurse of the year award for her work in 2017. She has since left the hospital.

In a statement given to Sky News, Ms Rees said “she wasn’t given enough information to justify removing Letby from her duties”.

She said when she went to see a doctor they “wouldn’t give me any information to explain why Lucy Letby should be removed from the unit.”

She added: “He (Dr Ravi Jayaram) said nothing about air embolus, or over-feeding. He did not even mention babies dying and Lucy Letby being present. He just asked for Lucy Letby to be removed from the NNU (neo-natal unit).”

Ms Rees continued that she “urgently” wanted to speak to Dr Brearey and had explained, Sky reports, that she needed more information before she could remove a nurse from the neo-natal unit.

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