Letby inquiry to examine actions of colleagues and managers
Culture at Countess of Chester Hospital to be a key focus of Thirlwall Inquiry as it examines circumstances that enabled Lucy Letby to commit multiple crimes
The public inquiry into Lucy Letby’s crimes will examine the conduct of staff and managers as well as the impact of NHS culture on speaking up, the government announced.
The Department of Health and Social Care has published the terms of reference for the Thirlwall Inquiry, established to scrutinise events and culture at the Countess of Chester Hospital, where Letby murdered seven babies and attempted to murder six more.
Letby was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court in August to a whole-life order after she was convicted of the murders and attempted murders at the neonatal unit in a 12-month period from June 2015.
Scope of the Thirlwall Inquiry
The inquiry will cover three broad areas:
- The experience of the babies’ parents.
- The conduct of clinical and non-clinical staff and management, as well as governance and escalation processes in relation to concerns raised about Letby and whether these contributed to the failure to protect babies.
- Effectiveness of governance, external scrutiny and professional regulation in keeping babies in hospital safe, including consideration of NHS culture.
‘Families deserve answers’
The terms of reference were set by health and social care secretary Steve Barclay after consultation with the inquiry chair, the families and other stakeholders.
He said: ‘Losing a child is the greatest sorrow any parent can experience, and I cannot begin to imagine the hurt and suffering experienced by the families. We have a duty to get them the answers they deserve, to hold people to account where they need to be, and to make sure lessons are learned.
‘I am confident Lady Justice Thirlwall will ensure their voices are heard as the inquiry gets under way.’
The government confirmed in August that the inquiry would be statutory, a status that gives it legal powers to compel witnesses, including former and current staff of the Countess of Chester, to give evidence, This evidence must be heard in public, unless the chair decides otherwise.
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