What happens now baby killer Lucy Letby has been convicted again as public inquiry set to begin

A public inquiry looking into the Lucy Letby scandal is set to begin later this year  (Chester Standard/SWNS)
A public inquiry looking into the Lucy Letby scandal is set to begin later this year (Chester Standard/SWNS)

The NHS will face scrutiny over alleged failures to listen to whistleblowers’ warnings about baby killer Lucy Letby after the nurse was convicted of another attempted murder.

Letby was convicted of trying to murder a “very premature” infant by dislodging her breathing tube in the early hours of February 17 2016 on Tuesday, following a retrial at Manchester Crown Court.

The 34 year-old’s latest conviction comes after she was found guilty of the murders of seven babies and the attempted murders of six others at the Countess of Chester Hospital’s neo-natal unit between June 2015 and June 2016, following her original trial last August.

The former nurse was given a rare whole-life order, making her one of Britain’s most prolific child serial killers. She is due to be sentenced for the further offence on Friday.

During the retrial, a jury was told that she deliberately dislodged Child K’s breathing tube and was “caught virtually red-handed” by consultant paediatrician Dr Ravi Jayaram when he walked into the unit’s intensive care nursery room.

Below we look at what happens now that Letby has been found guilty again.

Letby giving evidence during her trial at Manchester Crown Court (Elizabeth Cook/PA) (PA Wire)
Letby giving evidence during her trial at Manchester Crown Court (Elizabeth Cook/PA) (PA Wire)

In October last year, Cheshire Constabulary announced it had launched an investigation into potential corporate manslaughter involving the Countess of Chester Hospital. Police are looking into the hospital’s senior leadership and its decisions made in relation to Lucy Letby.

Detective superintendent Simon Blackwell, who is strategic lead for Operation Hummingbird, said: “The investigation, which is ongoing, focuses on the indictment period of the charges for Lucy Letby, from June 2015 to June 2016, and is considering areas including senior leadership and decision making to determine whether any criminality has taken place. The investigation is complex and sensitive and specific updates regarding progress will be issued at the appropriate time. At this stage we are not investigating any individuals in relation to gross negligence manslaughter.

“We recognise that this investigation has a significant impact on a number of different stakeholders including the families in this case and we want to reassure that we are committed to carrying out a thorough investigation. Since Letby’s original convictions in August 2023 it has been a very busy period for the investigation team. This has included a subsequent appeal, the re-trial for one count of attempted murder and the launch of the statutory public inquiry that Cheshire Constabulary is assisting with.”

Public inquiry to look at how nurse was able to kill

Lady Justice Thirlwall was appointed by the government to chair a statutory public inquiry following Letby’s conviction in August 2023, and public hearings are set to begin in September.

A core part of the inquiry’s remit will be to look at the conduct of those working at the Countess of Chester Hospital, including the board, managers, doctors, nurses and midwives while Letby was employed at the trust. The inquiry will look at whether suspicions should have been raised about Lucy Letby earlier and whether she should have been suspended sooner.

Following her arrest in 2018, the trust commissioned an independent review into any possible failings by the trust leadership which has since been completed. The report will be examined by the Thirlwall Inquiry.

In the fallout following her conviction last year, several doctors came forward claiming to have raised concerns to the executives over Letby before she was arrested, which they argue were overlooked by senior leaders within the NHS trust.

Dr Jayaram is one of the consultants to publicly come forward with claims he raised concerns about the nurse.

Dr Ravi Jayaram was among those who raised concerns about Letby to hospital bosses (ITV News/PA Wire)
Dr Ravi Jayaram was among those who raised concerns about Letby to hospital bosses (ITV News/PA Wire)

Four former board executives from the Countess of Chester were named in whistleblowers’ reports and have been named as “core participants” in the Thirlwall Inquiry, they are; former chief executive Tony Chambers, former medical director Ian Harvey, former nursing director Alison Kelly and former director of HR Sue Hodkinson.

Ms Kelly, who is a registered nurse, has been referred to the UK’s regulator the Nursing and Midwifery Council. However, the regulator’s investigation will not conclude until the Thirlwall Inquiry ends.

The inquiry has also been asked to look more broadly at the effectiveness of NHS management and external bodies such as professional regulators in keeping babies safe in hospital. It will look at whether changes are needed and consider the NHS’s culture more broadly.

As part of its work, the inquiry commissioned a survey, carried out by charity Picker, which has been sent to more than 120 NHS trusts and received more than 7,500 responses about the working relationships and culture within neonatal units.

Think tank the Nuffield Trust has been tasked with reviewing and analysing the results of questionnaires sent out to every medical director and senior non-clinical managers for every neo-natal unit in the country.

The analysis will also look at the reporting and managing of concerns, support for the bereaved, and current practice and procedures in neo-natal units to keep babies safe.