Posted: Mon 4th Sep 2023

Letby: Lady Justice Thirlwall to lead inquiry into neonatal nurse’s crimes

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Sep 4th, 2023

A senior judge has been appointed to chair the Lucy Letby inquiry.

In an address to the House of Commons today, Health and Social Care Secretary, Steve Barclay, provided a comprehensive update on the Lucy Letby case and outlined a series of measures aimed at bolstering patient safety within the NHS.

Lucy Letby, a former neonatal nurse, was convicted on 18 August for the murder of seven babies and the attempted murders of six others at the Countess of Chester Hospital between 2015 and 2016.

Describing her actions as a “cruel, calculated, and cynical campaign of child murder”, Mr. Barclay affirmed the necessity of her life-long imprisonment.

Expressing his deep sympathy for the affected families, the Health Secretary stated, “Losing a child is the greatest sorrow any parent can experience.” He emphasised the government’s commitment to providing answers, holding individuals accountable, and ensuring lessons are learned.

A statutory inquiry will have powers to compel witnesses to give evidence.

The inquiry, set to be led by Lady Justice Thirlwall, will delve into the broader circumstances of the case, including the hospital trust’s response and the conduct of the wider NHS and its regulators.

Furthermore, Mr. Barclay announced the appointment of Baroness Kate Lampard to chair the statutory inquiry into NHS mental health inpatient facilities across Essex.

Baroness Lampard previously led the Department of Health’s inquiry into the crimes of Jimmy Saville.

Several initiatives to enhance patient safety were also highlighted:

  • The introduction of Medical Examiners across England and Wales to independently scrutinise deaths not investigated by a coroner.
  • The strengthening of the Freedom to Speak up Policy by January, ensuring all NHS organisations provide a consistent approach to addressing staff concerns.
  • The launch of a centralised dataset by the Get it Right First Time Programme team to monitor neonatal services’ safety and quality.
  • Exploration of “Martha’s Rule”, a three-step process allowing patients or their families to request a clinical review if a patient’s condition deteriorates unexpectedly.

Mr. Barclay concluded his address by reiterating the government’s commitment to patient safety, stating, “My department and I are committed to putting in place robust safeguards to protect patient safety, and to make sure the lessons from this horrendous case are fully learned.”

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