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NHS managers need doctor-like regulation following Letby trial

NHS managers need doctor-like regulation following Letby trial
By Jess Hacker
22 August 2023

NHS managers must be regulated in the same way as doctors and other clinicians are, a senior doctor who first raised concerns over Lucy Letby in 2015 has said.

Dr Stephen Brearey, formerly the lead consultant on the neonatal unit where former nurse Ms Letby worked, has today (22 August) said his concerns raised to NHS managers were not initially acted on.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Dr Brearey said: ‘Doctors and nurses all have the regulatory bodies that we have to answer to and quite often we’ll see senior managers who have no apparent accountability for what they do in our trusts and then move to other trusts.’

He added that ‘there doesn’t seem to be any system to make them accountable, and for them to justify their actions in a systematic way’.

Dr Brearey said senior staff were worried about reputational damage to the organisation.

Ms Letby was handed a whole-life sentence on Monday, following a trial which found her guilty of murdering seven babies while in-post at the Countess of Chester hospital, Cheshire.

She was also found to have attempted to murder six others at the hospital’s neonatal unit.

The hospital’s medical director Dr Nigel Scawn said: ‘Our staff are devastated by what happened and we are committed to ensuring lessons continue to be learnt. We are grateful for the cooperation of our staff, especially those who have maintained the utmost professionalism whilst giving evidence in the trial, sometimes on multiple occasions. We will continue to support them and other staff to ensure they receive the care and support they need.

‘We would like to extend our thanks to Cheshire Police for their extensive investigation and the work they did to bring this case to trial. We’d also like to thank them for the comprehensive support they have provided to all of the families.

‘Since Lucy Letby worked at our hospital, we have made significant changes to our services. I want to provide reassurance that every patient who accesses our services can have confidence in the care they will receive.’

A spokesperson from Cheshire and Merseyside ICB said: ‘Following the trial of former neonatal nurse Lucy Letby, NHS Cheshire and Merseyside welcomes the announcement of an independent inquiry into the NHS response and decision-making at the time and will, of course, co-operate openly and fully with the inquiry as required.

‘To help safeguard the integrity of the inquiry, NHS Cheshire and Merseyside will not be making any further comment at this time.’

The Government last week announced an independent, non-statutory inquiry into the Letby case.

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