Lucy Letby was handed a whole life prison sentence at Manchester Crown Court yesterday for murdering seven babies and attempting to murder six more. Could some of the deaths have been prevented? Dr Stephen Brearey, the lead consultant at the neonatal unit where Letby worked in Cheshire, has spoken out about a lack of accountability for NHS managers. He told the BBC that when concerns were escalated to senior managers about a spike in mortality in 2015, the warnings weren’t acted on and his and his colleagues’ lives were made more difficult. Senior doctors first reported Letby’s link to suspicious incidents in July 2015, but a formal investigation wasn’t launched until a year later and police were not contacted until May 2017. A key medical expert witness for the prosecution has called for the management at Countess of Chester Hospital to be investigated for corporate manslaughter. Dr Dewi Evans says three murders could have been prevented if hospital bosses had acted more urgently on whistleblowers’ concerns. Some have already faced consequences for their part in protecting or ignoring concerns about Letby: Alison Kelly, the chief nurse when Letby killed or attacked the babies, has been suspended from her NHS job in Salford. The government announced it will carry out an independent inquiry into the hospital’s failings.
Photograph Christopher Furlong/Getty Images