Lucy Letby: Former NHS nursing director Alison Kelly suspended after Letby concerns
According to staff on the ward at the time, bosses discouraged Letby’s colleagues from sharing their concerns with the police
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A former chief nurse has been suspended from the NHS following the conviction of baby-murderer Lucy Letby. Alison Kelly, was the nursing director at the Countess of Chester Hospital, where Letby killed seven babies, and tried to murder six others between June 2015 and June 2016.
Letby, who was sentenced to a whole-life sentence yesterday (August 21) following a 10-month trial, killed the innocent babies by poisoning them with insulin, injecting air into their veins and overfeeding them with milk. Alison Kelly and other managers at the Countess of Chester Hospital have been accused of ignoring warnings about Letby.
Ms Kelly had been working as the director of nursing at the Rochdale Care Organisation, which is part of the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust before she was suspended.
An NHS England spokesperson said: "We welcome the independent inquiry announced by the Department of Health and Social Care into the events at the Countess of Chester and will cooperate fully to help ensure all lessons are learned. In light of information that has emerged during the trial of Lucy Letby, and the announcement of the independent inquiry, the Northern Care Alliance has suspended Alison Kelly."
Despite concerns being raised by staff members, Letby was not removed from the neonatal unit until one year later. Figures also show the number of babies who suffered serious and unexpected collapses in the neonatal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital increased significantly between 2015 and 2016.
According to staff on the ward at the time, bosses discouraged her colleagues from sharing their concerns with the police and even made those concerned apologise to Letby for making reports over her behaviour.
Now the prosecution's lead medical expert, retired consultant paediatrician Dewi Evans, has said that he will write to Cheshire Constabulary to ask that they probe bosses for corporate negligence and criminal negligence.
Speaking to The Observer, Mr Evans said: “They were grossly negligent. I shall write to Cheshire police and ask them, from what I have heard following the end of the trial, that I believe that we should now investigate a number of managerial people in relation to issues of corporate manslaughter.
He added: “I think this is a matter that demands an investigation into corporate manslaughter.”
Concerns around Letby's presence when collapses took place were first mentioned to the hospital’s senior management by the unit's head consultant in late June 2015. However, Letby was not removed from the unit until after the deaths of two triplet boys and the collapse of another baby boy on three successive days in June 2016.
Letby was confined to clerical work and in September 2016 registered a grievance procedure.
The BBC reports it emerged during legal arguments in the trial - in the absence of the jury - that the grievance procedure was resolved in Letby's favour in December 2016. Letby was due to return to the neonatal unit in March 2017, but as the trust was contacted by police, the move did not take place.
No babies died between when Letby was removed from the unit in July 2016 and when police were called in by the hospital in May 2017. She was suspended on full pay from the moment she was arrested in July 2018.It is understood she was sacked when she was charged in November 2020.
Letby, 33 was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of murdering seven babies and attempting to murder six more yesterday (August 21).