Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay, has agreed that a Statutory Public Inquiry into the investigation surrounding allegations made about Lucy Letby will now take place. This Inquiry will include investigation into the associated deaths and severe decline in health of babies on her shifts on the Neonatal Unit at Countess of Chester Hospital.
Following Letby’s sentence on 21 August, there has been much speculation as to whether an Independent Inquiry would be adequate enough to provide the answers to the questions that so many have, in particular the families directly impacted by her actions. It is fair to say that the horrific crimes committed by Letby have led to many more questions requiring vital answers so that the families involved can begin to process the events that have taken place.
Operation Hummingbird, a police investigation, has identified a further 4000 families that may have been affected by care provided at the Hospital Trusts where Letby worked. It is not yet clear if any of these cases directly involve Lucy Letby, but it does give rise to serious concerns that need to be considered and questions that need to be answered.
The importance of a Statutory Public Inquiry means that the investigation in the circumstances surrounding these events will be led by an individual who will have the power to compel witnesses and the Trust to provide full disclosure of evidence. Given what is in the public domain so far around the circumstances of Letby’s crimes, it is utterly vital that there is a full investigation to put robust systems in place to do all that is possible to ensure nothing like this happens again and to restore any kind of trust in the NHS. As Sir Robert Buckland, Former Justice Secretary, stated in his interview on BBC Breakfast on 22 August 2023: ‘Our observations need to be heard and it is paramount that we have the highest confidence in the process and not one that is later second guessing, particularly as the families involved have waited so patiently for the criminal case to be resolved.’
At Switalskis we hope that the Statutory Public Inquiry will demonstrate honesty and co-operation from the Trust and ultimately result in the Trust taking some accountability for what has happened. We understand how difficult this inquiry will be and we will continue to support the families we currently represent through the inquiry and with their civil claims. We would like to reach out and invite families who may have been affected by treatment received at the Neonatal Unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital or Liverpool Women’s Hospital to get in touch so that we can provide you with advice and begin to support you to.