Hospital managers ‘have blood on their hands’ after Letby found guilty of killing seven babies

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“A responsible, intelligent manager should have said, ‘Look, we may have a problem here. We should start doing something about it now. I suggest that we perhaps take her off the wards for the time being’.

“That’s the way any intelligent, non-confrontational person who wants to solve the problem would go about it.”

Another executive, Tony Chambers, then the hospital’s chief executive, instructed senior doctors to write a letter of apology to Letby on January 26, 2017 for repeatedly raising concerns about her. The apology was ordered on the basis of two external reviews which executives felt exonerated Letby.

Ward added: “There were doctors who were trying to say, please can you look into this and these doctors themselves, were sort of quasi-disciplined.

“They were asked to apologise for making a fuss and nobody believed them.

“And guess who the people asking them to apologise were? NHS managers … It’s verging on the criminal.”

Karen Rees, then head of nursing in urgent care at the Countess of Chester hospital, was also accused in court of ignoring three warnings from a doctor who was concerned about the deaths of two infant brothers who had been treated by Letby.

Brearey also said that he raised concerns with Eirian Powell, the nursing manager of the neonatal unit, in October 2015.

In an email, however, she described the association between Letby and the unexpected baby deaths as “unfortunate”.

In a statement to BBC News, Harvey said: “At this time, my thoughts are with the babies whose treatment has been the focus of the trial and with their parents and relatives who have been through something unimaginable and I am sorry for all their suffering.

“As medical director, I was determined to keep the baby unit safe and support our staff. I wanted the reviews and investigations carried out so that we could tell the parents what had happened to their children. I believe there should be an inquiry that looks at all events leading up to this trial and I will help it in whatever way I can.”

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In a statement to The Telegraph, Kelly said: “It is impossible to imagine the heartache suffered by the families involved and my thoughts are very much with them.

“These are truly terrible crimes and I am deeply sorry that this happened to them.

“We owe it to the babies and their families to learn lessons and I will fully cooperate with the independent inquiry announced.”

The Telegraph, London

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