When was Lucy Letby arrested? Key dates in the investigation of baby-killing nurse

Letby was accused of the murders of seven babies and the attempted murders of 10 others at the Countess of Chester Hospital

Kim Pilling
Sunday 20 August 2023 15:44 BST
Lucy Letby: Nurse found guilty of baby murders on hospital ward

Here are the key dates surrounding the investigation of nurse Lucy Letby.

22 June 2015: Child D, a full-term baby girl, dies 36 hours after her birth at the Countess of Chester Hospital. It is the third infant death in a fortnight – equalling the total number of deaths on the neonatal unit for the whole of 2014.

End of June/July: A meeting takes place between neonatal lead consultant Dr Stephen Brearey and director of nursing Alison Kelly, along with other bosses, to discuss an informal review undertaken by Dr Brearey of Child D’s death. His findings reveal an “association” with nurse Lucy Letby and her presence at the recent collapses.

5 August: Blood sugar levels of a prematurely born baby boy, Child F, fall dangerously low, and a blood sample is sent for tests at the Royal Liverpool Hospital. A day earlier the boy’s twin brother, Child E, died following an unexpected collapse.

13 August: The blood test result for Child F reveals an abnormally high level of insulin, which indicates it was not naturally produced.

23 October: Child I, a prematurely born girl, dies on the unit. Concerns are raised again by some consultants in an email.

8 February 2016: A “thematic” review by an independent neonatologist based at Liverpool Women’s Hospital takes place. The review, requested by Dr Brearey, does not find a reason for the increased number of deaths and collapses, but concerns remain over Letby as the report is forwarded to nursing director Ms Kelly and medical director Ian Harvey.

9 April: Another youngster, Child L, suffers a hypoglycaemic episode in which his blood sugar level plunges. At around the same time, his twin brother, Child M, unexpectedly collapses and requires full resuscitation before he recovers. A blood sample from Child L is sent for tests at the Royal Liverpool Hospital.

16 April: The blood test result for Child L shows a very high level of insulin, which again indicates it was not produced naturally.

24 June: Child P, one of a set of triplet boys, collapses and dies a day after the death on the unit of his newborn brother, Child O. Dr Brearey phones the duty executive on call, Karen Rees, a senior nurse in the urgent care division, to say that he and his consultant colleagues do not want Letby to work her next scheduled shift on 25 June, but she rejects the plea.

25 June: Ninety minutes into Letby’s day shift, Child Q, a prematurely born boy, needs breathing support after his blood oxygen levels and heart rate plummet. He goes on to make a full recovery.

29 June: Consultants meet to discuss recent “inexplicable” events and then urge hospital bosses to remove Letby from the unit as a safety measure.

30 June: Letby works her last nursing shift on the neonatal unit.

7 July: Hospital bosses reduce the neonatal unit service by cutting cot spaces and increasing the gestational age limit for admission from a minimum of 27 to 32 weeks.

15 July: An email is sent to all nursing staff informing them that they will each undergo a period of clinical supervision – after medical director Mr Harvey asked the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) to conduct a review of the unit’s service. The email states: “Lucy has agreed to undergo this supervision first on Monday 18th July.”

19 July: Letby starts an administrative post in the hospital’s Patient Experience Team.

9 August: Another group email to neonatal staff informs them that job secondment opportunities are available and states that Letby is spending three months in the Risk and Patient Safety Office.

7 September: Letby registers a formal grievance procedure against her employer. Around this time, the Royal College of Nursing union informs her by letter about allegations surrounding her involvement in a number of deaths.

November 2016: The RCPCH says it found no obvious factors linking a total of eight deaths in the neonatal unit in 2015 and five deaths up to July 2016. However, it did uncover significant gaps in medical and nursing rotas, and insufficient staffing for the provision of longer-term high dependency and some intensive care.

18 May 2017: Cheshire Police announce they have launched an investigation following “a greater number of baby deaths and collapses” at the hospital between June 2015 and June 2016. The probe will focus on eight deaths and will also review seven further deaths and six non-fatal collapses.

3 July 2018: Letby is arrested at her home in Westbourne Road, Chester, at 6am, and officers search the three-bedroom property. Searches also take place at her parents’ home in Hereford and her place of work in the hospital’s Risk and Patient Safety Office. Police say the investigation has widened to 17 deaths and 15 non-fatal collapses between March 2015 and July 2016.

10 June 2019: Letby is re-arrested at her parents’ home.

10 November 2020: Letby is arrested again before she is charged, and appears in court for the first time two days later.

4 October 2022: Letby goes on trial at Manchester Crown Court accused of the murders of seven babies and the attempted murders of 10 others.

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