An independent inquiry was launched into the “horrific” baby murders committed by Lucy Letby.

An independent inquiry has been initiated by the government to investigate the circumstances surrounding the “horrific” baby murders committed by serial killer Lucy Letby. The Department of Health is examining how concerns raised by clinicians were handled following a BBC investigation that revealed hospital administrators ignored doctors’ warnings about Letby. Letby was recently convicted of murdering seven babies and attempting to murder another six at a Chester hospital. She was acquitted of two counts of attempted murder, while the jury was unable to reach verdicts on six counts of attempted murder.

Detectives are conducting a comprehensive review of the care provided to all infants admitted to the neonatal unit during Letby’s tenure as a nurse. This assessment also covers her placements at Liverpool Women’s Hospital in 2012 and 2015, although no fatalities were involved in these instances. Cheshire Police have emphasised that only medically concerning cases will undergo further investigation.

Simultaneously, the independent inquiry aims to offer answers to affected parents and ensure lessons are learned. The Health Secretary, Steve Barclay, expressed his determination to involve parents in shaping the inquiry’s scope to address patient safety standards that were not met. This inquiry lacks the power to summon evidence or witnesses, making it distinct from statutory inquiries like the UK COVID-19 Inquiry.

However, some have expressed reservations about the efficacy of this approach. While Health Minister Helen Whately noted that the non-statutory inquiry could proceed more swiftly, critics like MP Samantha Dixon and former Crown Prosecution Service chief Nazir Afzal argued that a traditional, statutory inquiry would hold individuals accountable for failures.

The Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, where Letby worked, issued an apology for the crimes committed within its premises and mentioned significant service changes. Hospital administrators at the time of Letby’s employment, including former CEO Tony Chambers and former medical director Ian Harvey, expressed their willingness to fully cooperate with the inquiry. A lead consultant at the neonatal unit revealed that hospital management had failed to investigate allegations and attempted to silence doctors who raised concerns. Letby, who awaits sentencing, was not present during the final verdicts.