Nurse Lucy Letby, 28, investigated by ANOTHER hospital – and she would be Britain's most prolific child killer if convicted over 8 baby deaths

Liverpool Women's Hospital said today it is assisting detectives after neonatal nurse Lucy Letby's arrest this week.

Letby, 28, is being held as police investigate the deaths of 17 babies at the Countess of Chester hospital between March 2015 and July 2016.

If convicted she would be the UK's most prolific child killer.

Letby worked at Liverpool Women's Hospital during her training — and health bosses there are now "co-operating with police" as part of their investigation.

A spokesperson for Liverpool Women’s Trust said: "A healthcare worker currently involved in a police investigation undertook placements at Liverpool Women's during their training.

"We are co-operating with Police as part of their investigation which includes a routine review of patients cared for on our Neonatal Unit during the time of these placements.

"There is currently no suggestion that any patients at Liverpool Women's came to any harm in relation to this investigation."

Letby's three-bedroom semi lies a mile-and-a-half away from the Chester hospital and police have erected a blue tent outside while they conduct searches.

Forensic officers were seen removing boxes from her home today, with cops also seen at her parent's home in Hereford last night.

If the nurse is convicted of murdering eight babies, she would become Britain's most prolific child killer.

The grisly title is currently held by Moors Murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, who tortured and killed five children in the 1960s.

In a photo for a staff profile in a local newspaper, Lucy smiles as she clutches a babygro while talking through her job as a children's nurse.

She says: "My role involves caring for a wide range of babies requiring various levels of support.

“Some are here for a few days, others for many months and I enjoy seeing them progress and supporting their families."

Letby’s arrest stunned colleagues because she is regarded as a champion of the children she cares for – and helped a massive fund-raising campaign to build a new £3 million baby unit at the hospital.

Lucy, who graduated from the University of Chester in 2011, also reveals she is undergoing "extra training" to enhance her "knowledge and skills within the Intensive Care area".

Letby – who has two cats and is registered as living alone at her home – has "liked" Channel 4 hospital show One Born Every Minute on Facebook.

She is a member of 14 groups relating to helping sick children, including: “Save special care baby units. They need us. One day u might need them.”

Unit's problems

A DAMNING review revealed the neonatal unit at the hospital was facing a string of problems at least 20 months ago.

It found the death rate was higher than the norm and the 20-cot ward was short-staffed by around 21 per cent.

Two consultants worked only from 9am to 5pm. And nursing was said to be a “challenge” thanks to the unit’s old-fashioned design with cots close together.

Among 24 recommendations by the Royal College of Paediatrics were case reviews for all deaths.

A second study found the death rate among babies was at least ten per cent higher than expected.

And a Care Quality Commission inspection also said the hospital needed to improve.

Echoes of sick Allitt's tiny victims

YESTERDAY’S arrest has sparked chilling memories of the Angel of Death Beverley Allitt.

The then 22-year-old nurse went on a murder spree at the hospital where she worked in 1991.

Over a period of just 59 days Allitt killed four children and tried to kill nine more at Grantham and Kesteven Hospital in Lincolnshire.

She administered large doses of insulin to at least two victims.

Allitt was diagnosed as suffering from Munchausen’s syndrome, where carers deliberately induce or falsely report illnesses to focus attention on themselves.

She was convicted in 1993 of four murders, three attempted murders and six charges of GBH.

Allitt, now 49, was given 13 life sentences and is currently detained at Rampton Secure Hospital in Nottinghamshire.

In an announcement in the local paper when she graduated in 2011 with a BSc Honours in child nursing, her parents said: “We are so proud of you after all your hard work. Love Mum and Dad.”

Her dad John, 72, and mum Susan, 58, live in Hereford, where she grew up.

Her arrest comes three years after docs first raised concerns about a "higher than usual number of neonatal deaths" in June 2015.

After failing to identify the cause of the deaths, hospital bosses called in specialist investigators from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) in June 2016 – a full year after the first concerns were raised.

Within a month, the hospital's neonatal unit was banned from giving tots intensive care by being downgraded from a Local Neonatal Unit to a Special Care Unit – the lowest possible grade.

The damning inspectors' report – published in November 2016 – slammed the hospital's "arms-length" bosses and unsafe staffing levels.

One section reads: "The arrangements for investigating neonatal deaths must be strengthened… there seems to be a disconnection between the neonatal leadership and the Trust's government and risk management process".

The report noted that several of the tots who "collapsed" were "surprisingly unresponsive to resuscitation" and displayed "sudden mottling" on their arms and legs if they were revived.

But pathologists failed to conduct toxicology, blood electrolyte, or blood sugar tests on any of the babies during autopsy.

It also claims a panel on safety in the neonatal unit was poorly attended – with just seven of the 20 panel members turning up to a meeting in May 2016.

Cheshire Police launched the investigation in May last year following the high number of baby deaths at the hospital.

Key points from the damning inspection report in November 2016

  • Staffing on the unit was 21 per cent than the recommended safe levels in 2014/15
  • One infant needed resuscitation for several collapses over three nights – but information about this was not shared with the review team
  • Pathologists at nearby Alder Hay Children's Hospital performed autopsies on "most" of the infants – but these did not include toxicology, blood electrolytes, or blood sugar tests
  • The report slammed the hospital's "remote leadership" – with one medic describing them as "arm's length" from the neonatal unit
  • The hospital's reporting policy for unexplained neonatal deaths was inadequate
  • After resuscitation several of the infants had an unexplained sudden mottling on the arms and legs (and the chest on one occasion)
  • Doctors noticed that many of the infants were surprisingly unresponsive to standard resuscitation procedures
  • A panel on safety in the neonatal unit was poorly attended – with just seven of the 20 panel members turning up to a meeting in May 2016.

Det Insp Paul Hughes, of Cheshire Police, said: “As a result of our ongoing enquiries we have arrested a healthcare professional in connection with the investigation.

“We recognise that this investigation has a huge impact on all of the families, staff, and patients at the hospital as well as members of the public.

“Parents of all the babies are continuing to be kept fully updated and are being supported throughout the process by specially trained officers.

“This is an extremely difficult time for all the families and it is important to remember that, at the heart of this, there are a number of bereaved families seeking answers as to what happened to their children.

“This is a highly complex and very sensitive investigation and, as you can appreciate, we need to ensure we do everything we possibly can to try to establish in detail what has led to these baby deaths and collapses.”

Mortality rates at the neonatal unit

Figures showing the number of babies who died at the facility between 2009 and 2016:

  • 2009 – 3 
  • 2010 – 1 
  • 2011 – 3 
  • 2012 – 3 
  • 2013 – 2 
  • 2014 – 3 
  • 2015 – 8 
  • 2016 – 5

Ian Harvey, Medical Director at the Countess of Chester, said: “We are continuing to support Cheshire Police with their ongoing investigation.

“Asking the police to look into this was not something we did lightly, but we need to do everything we can to understand what has happened here and get the answers we and the families so desperately want.

“The Countess is now equivalent to a Level 1 special care baby unit and we are confident the unit is safe to continue in its current form.”

Neil Fearn, CEO of Pryers Solicitors, a legal firm acting on behalf of two babies who received treatment at the hospital, said: “The death of any child is a tragedy but this is exacerbated in circumstances where questions remain unanswered.

“However we are reassured that the investigation is still ongoing and that there are further steps to be taken. We are hopeful that the investigation can provide answers for the families of these children.”

Timeline of baby probe

2013: Two babies die on Countess of Chester Hospital’s neonatal unit.

2014: A further three babies die at the unit.

JUNE 2015 to JULY 2016: 15 babies die on neonatal unit and six others suffer non-fatal collapses.

FEBRUARY: Senior doctors and nursing staff carry out a “high level” review into ten neonatal deaths at the hospital.

JUNE: Hospital bosses ask the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health to investigate why the number of deaths on its neonatal unit had increased.

JULY: Chiefs announce that gravely-ill babies will be cared for at neighbouring units.

SEPTEMBER: Review team visits hospital and interviews staff.

NOVEMBER: RCPCH publishes report making 24 recommendations.

MAY 2017: Hospital asks Cheshire Police to investigate 15 baby deaths and six non-fatal baby collapses. Operation Hummingbird is launched.

YESTERDAY: Female healthcare worker is arrested on suspicion of murder of eight babies and attempted murder of a further six infants.

Cheshire Police also reveal the scope of the investigation has been widened to 17 baby deaths and 15 non-fatal collapses between March 2015 and July 2016.

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