Lucy Letby: neonatal ward was ‘dirty’ and had raw sewage in sinks

Nurse accused of murdering seven babies claims the intensive care unit where she worked was a 'potentially' unsafe environment
Photo of nurse Lucy Letby, accused of murdering seven babies

Nurse accused of murdering seven babies claims the intensive care unit where she worked was a 'potentially' unsafe environment

Photo of nurse Lucy Letby, accused of murdering seven babies
Lucy Letby. Picture: Shutterstock

Nurse Lucy Letby told jurors that the neonatal unit where she worked had ‘raw sewage coming out of some of the sinks’ at her trial at Manchester Crown Court.

Ms Letby said it was a ‘potentially’ unsafe environment ‘if the unit is dirty and staff are unable to wash their hands properly’.

Ms Letby denies the murders of seven babies and the attempted murders of ten others at the Countess of Chester Hospital between June 2015 and June 2016.

Incident alleged to have occurred in 2015

The prosecution says the neonatal nurse inflicted an injury to ‘Child E’ on a night shift in August 2015 and also injected him with air while he was under her care at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

But during cross-examination, Ms Letby said that doctors could have acted sooner to try to stop the bleeding of the baby boy.

Child’s mother heard her son’s ‘horrendous crying’

The court has previously heard from a prosecution medical expert that a rigid wire or tube may have been used to cause ‘extraordinary bleeding’.

Child E deteriorated from 11.40pm on 3 August and later died early the next morning having lost a quarter of his blood volume.

The boy’s mother had told the court that she heard ‘horrendous crying’ as she visited her son at 9pm and then saw blood around his mouth. Ms Letby says no bleeding took place before 10pm.

‘Collectively they could have acted sooner’

Prosecutor Nick Johnson QC asked in cross-examination: ‘Is it your case that medical incompetency contributed to his collapse or death?’

The defendant replied: ‘Possibly, yes.’

Mr Johnson asked: ‘Whose medical incompetencies?’

Ms Letby said: ‘The medical team who were on that night. I just think collectively they could have acted sooner to respond to the blood issue.’

Mr Johnson asked: ‘Their reaction would be dependent on when you told them there was a bleed?’

‘Yes,’ she replied.

Decision on blood transfusion would have been down to medics, says Ms Letby

Mr Johnson continued: ‘The prosecution case is that [Child E’s mother] is telling the truth and [Child E] was bleeding at 9pm. But you didn’t tell anyone about that until at least an hour later?’

Ms Letby said: ‘No, I disagree with that. I think once [Child E] was profusely bleeding after 10pm maybe a blood transfusion or something could have been given sooner. I don’t know if that would have made a difference.’

Ms Letby said it would have been the decision of the duty consultant, registrar and senior house officer that night to have made the decision to prescribe and give a blood transfusion.

‘I don’t accept that. It didn’t happen’

Mr Johnson continued: ‘I am suggesting to you that when [Child E’s mother] came down at 9pm you had inflicted an injury on [Child E] to cause bleeding?’

Ms Letby said: ‘No, I don’t accept that. It didn’t happen.’

Mr Johnson said: ‘That’s why he was screaming, wasn’t it?’

‘No,’ she replied.

Mr Johnson said: ‘Did you tell [Child E’s mother] that the source of the bleed was the insertion of a nasogastric tube?’

Ms Letby said: ‘No.’

Mr Johnson said: ‘That is what you told [Child E’s mother] when she queried why he had blood around his mouth?’

Ms Letby said: ‘No, I don’t recall that, I don’t believe I would have said something like that.’

Failure to record incident on chart was ‘an error on my part’

The defendant denied the suggestion that she had ‘falsified records’ including when failing to record a vomit of fresh blood on an observation chart.

Ms Letby explained: ‘It was an error on my part but it was in my nursing note.’

Mr Johnson said: ‘Or was it in the excitement of sabotaging [Child E] you overlooked it?

‘No,’ she replied.

Mr Johnson said: ‘You killed [Child E], didn’t you?’

‘No,’ said Ms Letby.

The trial continues.

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