An independent inquiry into the circumstances behind the murders and attempted murders of babies at Countess of Chester Hospital has been launched following Lucy Letby’s trial.
The inquiry will examine how concerns raised by clinicians were dealt with and will invite the families of victims to engage and shape the investigation, according to the government.
Last week, the 33-year-old former neo-natal nurse was found guilty of seven counts of murder and seven further counts of attempted murder between June 2015 and June 2016.
The court heard how Lucy Letby had injected babies with air, poisoned them with insulin, and overfed them with milk.
Health and social care secretary Steve Barclay said he would like to ‘send my deepest sympathy to all the parents and families impacted by this horrendous case’.
Mr Barclay added: ‘This inquiry will seek to ensure the parents and families impacted get the answers they need. I am determined their voices are heard, and they are involved in shaping the scope of the inquiry should they wish to do so.
Following on from the work already underway by NHS England, it will help us identify where and how patient safety standards failed to be met and ensure mothers and their partners rightly have faith in our healthcare system.’
The government announced that the inquiry would be launched to investigate the wider circumstances that lead up to what happened at Countess of Chester Hospital, including looking at concerns of governance.
The inquiry will also look at what actions were taken by regulators and the wider NHS.
A chair for the inquiry is to be announced, with proposed terms of reference to set out the scope of work ‘published in due course’.
Commenting on yesterday’s verdict, parliamentary and health service ombudsman Rob Behrens said this was ‘one of the darkest crimes ever committed in our health services’.
Mr Behrens added that ‘we need to see significant improvements to culture and leadership across the NHS so that the voices of staff and patients can be heard, both with regard to everyday pressures and mistakes and, very exceptionally, when there are warnings of real evil.’
The police currently have arrangements in place to appropriately support families impacted by the case, including psychological support and family liaison officers.
The trust meanwhile is offering ‘as much support as necessary to any current or anticipated users of its neonatal and transitional care service’, according to the government.
Ms Letby is expected to be sentenced today.