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Doctor who helped catch Lucy Letby says 'babies could have been saved'

Doctor who helped catch Lucy Letby says 'babies could have been saved'

The doctor has opened up about the horrifying case

Content warning: the subject matter in this article may be upsetting to some readers

The doctor who helped catch Lucy Letby says the 'babies could have been saved'.

The 33-year-old nurse was found guilty at Manchester Crown Court of the murders of seven babies and the attempted murders of six others at the Countess of Chester Hospital yesterday (18 August).

Prosecutors said Letby was a 'calculated opportunist' who used the vulnerabilities of premature and sick infants to camouflage her acts.

Lucy Letby has been found guilty of the murders of seven babies.
Cheshire Constabulary

Between 2015 and 2016, there was a significant rise in the numbers of babies who suffered serious and unexpected collapses in the neonatal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

Letby was the only member of the nursing and clinical staff who was on duty each time the collapses happened, which the Crown argued were not natural events.

The band 5 staff nurse used various ways to harm the infants including injecting air into the bloodstream, injecting air into the stomach, overfeeding with milk, physical assaults and poisoning with insulin.

Concerns among some staff member about the defendant increased and were voiced to hospital bosses when more unexplained and unusual collapses followed, the court heard.

Among those staff members was Dr Ravi Jayaram, a consultant paediatrician at the Countess of Chester Hospital, who has since come forward to say that the babies' lives could have been saved if hospital bosses had contacted police sooner.

He told ITV News that he had raised concerns about Letby months before authorities were alerted yet was told by executives at the top of the organisation to 'draw a line' under such suspicions.

Dr Jayaram was also told to apologise to Letby for his accusations.

Doctor Ravi Jayaram 'genuinely believes' the babies' lives could have been saved.
ITV News

"I do genuinely believe that there are four or five babies who could be going to school now who aren't," Dr Jayaram told the outlet.

He explained that consultants first started raising concerns after three infants died back in June 2015 and, as more babies collapsed and died, staff held several meetings to discuss the matter.

Dr Jayaram claims that the then-Chief Executive Tony Chambers told consultants during a January 2017 meeting: "I'm drawing a line under this, you will draw a line under this, and if you cross that line, there will be consequences for you."

He also recalled a harrowing anecdote from when his suspicions about the nurse were finally confirmed after walking in on her attending to a baby one evening.

"That is a night that is etched on my memory and will be in my nightmares forever," he said. "As I walked towards the incubator, I could see on the monitors that the oxygen saturations were dropping, and they'd dropped to a level that ordinarily the alarms would've been going off and the nurse would've called for help."

According to the doctor, Letby was standing by the top of the incubator and she 'didn't have her hands in the incubator'.

"She was just standing there," as the baby's breathing tube had become dislodged.

Letby worked at the Countess of Chester Hospital.
Christopher Furlong / Staff / Getty Images

"Tubes do become dislodged, but this was a twenty-five week gestation baby, who wasn't kicking around, who wasn't vigorous. The only possibility was that that tube had to have been dislodged deliberately."

It wasn't until April 2017 that the trust allowed doctors to meet with a police officer who, at last, finally took their flagged concerns seriously.

Dr Jayaram said: "The police, after listening to us for less than 10 minutes, realised that this is something that they had to be involved with. I could have punched the air."

It was shortly after this that an investigation was launched and Letby was eventually arrested at her home in Westbourne Road, Chester, at 6am on 3 July 2018.

Cheshire Police say they are continuing to review the care of some 4,000 babies who were admitted to the Countess of Chester – and also at Liverpool Women’s Hospital when Letby had two work placements – during her employment from 2012.

Only those cases highlighted as concerning medically would be investigated further, police added.

A court order prohibits reporting of the identities of the surviving and dead children who were the subject of the allegations.

Featured Image Credit: ITV News / Cheshire Constabulary

Topics: Crime, NHS, UK News, Lucy Letby