Calls are rising for a full public inquiry into serial killer nurse Lucy Letby’s murders amid fears the probe introduced will lack the powers wanted to get justice for the households and forestall future deaths.
Health secretary Steve Barclay introduced an impartial inquiry on Friday after Letby was discovered responsible of murdering seven infants and the tried homicide of six others within the neonatal unit of the Countess of Chester Hospital the place she labored between June 2015 and June 2016.
But he stopped wanting establishing an inquiry with statutory powers, that means witnesses won’t be required by regulation to attend, sparking considerations that hospital managers might keep away from being held accountable for potential wrongdoing.
Senior medical doctors working with Letby warned for months that she had been the one medic current through the sudden collapses and deaths of quite a few untimely infants on the hospital in North West England.
However their considerations had been ignored and one marketing consultant, who helped unmask Letby, mentioned infants might have been saved had hospital administration acted sooner. Senior physician Ravi Jayaram claimed he was persuaded to not contact the police as a result of it will hurt the hospital’s fame.
The Countess of Chester Hospital is dealing with mounting questions over why Letby was not faraway from the neonatal unit sooner. Concerns about her had been first raised in June 2015 after three infants died over a interval of two weeks. It was at this level Letby’s title was first talked about amongst a gaggle of consultants, one in all whom was Dr Jayaram.
Despite this, she continued to work on the unit for an extra 12 months till she was moved to clerical duties in July 2016 – after she had murdered seven new child infants and tried to kill six others. The court docket heard that, on one event, a health care provider walked into the room whereas she was suspected of being within the strategy of attempting to kill a untimely child in February 2016.
Conservative MP Dr Caroline Johnson mentioned it was “completely unacceptable” that the hospital’s administration didn’t instantly act on considerations flagged by the consultants, often known as the “gang of four”.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Saturday, the marketing consultant paediatrician and Commons well being committee member, mentioned: “To my mind, as it has been reported, it is completely unacceptable.
“To ignore one consultant, if the other six disagree, perhaps you could think ‘that is wrong’, but you could understand it. But when you’ve got seven paediatricians, experts in their field, looking after babies in a neonatal unit telling you in their expert opinion that these events are unusual and they should not be occurring and there are unexpected collapses that are unexplained in babies that are leading to death, to then say you are not going to take action seems completely remarkable to me.”
Dr Johnson said the consultants who raised concerns would have been “powerless to do anything more” because they did not have any “jurisdiction over the nursing hierarchy”.
The Sleaford and North Hykeham MP said there needed to be “clear lines of accountability in the NHS” to establish “who is accountable for making what decisions”.
Doctor who helped catch Lucy Letby describes seeing her stood over sick baby
She added that she backed the government’s decision to announce an independent review but warned ministers would need to “look again at the type of inquiry” if these working on the hospital “don’t come forward”.
The households of Letby’s victims have mentioned they’ve been left “heartbroken, devastated, angry and feel numb” by her actions. But it’s anticipated they won’t see her when she is sentenced on Monday after the serial killer has refused to attend court docket and won’t participate within the listening to through video hyperlink from jail.
Lawyers representing among the households have vowed to proceed their seek for solutions.
Dr Bill Kirkup, a number one affected person security investigator, mentioned the Letby case highlighted the “tragic” penalties of hospital managers “protecting reputations” above listening to the considerations of employees. He mentioned there have been “common features” between the Letby case and reviews he has conducted into poor care in maternity units in other hospitals.
“The first reaction of people under these circumstances in management, controlling organisations, is to protect reputations – the organisation’s reputation, their own reputation, he told BBC Breakfast. “And when that comes ahead of being open and honest about what’s going on, that’s tragic. We have to be able to stop this.”
There were 13 deaths on the neonatal unit where Letby worked over a one-year period, the BBC reported, which is five times the usual rate, and the nurse was on duty for all of them.
Lucy Letby’s childhood friend claims killing was ‘not in her nature’
In October of that year, after seven babies had died, a link was made between all the fatal collapses and Letby, whom prosecutors described as a “constant malevolent presence” in the care of the infants. Despite this, the link was believed to be co-incidental.
Dr Susan Gilby, who took over as the hospital’s medical director a month after Letby was arrested, told the BBC: “The paediatricians were discussing the terrible nights on call that they were having, one of them said ‘every time that this is happening to me, that I am being called in for these catastrophic events which were unexpected and unexplained, Lucy Letby is there, and then somebody else said ‘yes I found that’, and then someone else had the same response.”
Paediatrician Dr Stephen Brearey, who blew the whistle on Letby in 2015, told The Guardian the hospital had been “negligent” in its handling of the killings.
Tony Chambers, the hospital’s former chief executive who was in charge at the time of Letby’s murders, said he would cooperate “fully and openly” with the inquiry.
Dr Nigel Scawn, medical director at the hospital, said in a statement 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.”
But he walked away without answering when a journalist asked: “Why did hospital managers try to stop Lucy Letby from being investigated?”
The Department for Health and Social Care had said the independent inquiry will look at the circumstances surrounding the deaths and incidents, including how concerns raised by clinicians were dealt with.
But it said that “after careful consideration, a non-statutory independent inquiry was found to be the most appropriate option” and it will as an alternative “focus on lessons that can be learned quickly”.
Health secretary Mr Barclay mentioned the inquiry will “seek to ensure the parents and families impacted get the answers they need”.