‘They’ve had EVERY opportunity to say they made mistakes over Lucy Letby – and they’re STILL trying to justify why they ignored the warnings’: TV doctor and witness Ravi Jayaram blasts hospital bosses who failed to stop baby-killer nurse
A consultant whose evidence helped convict Lucy Letby has blasted hospital bosses for not apologising over failing to stop the killer nurse from murdering babies in her care.
Dr Ravi Jayaram, who is a senior paediatrician at the Countess of Chester Hospital, had joined other doctors in warning NHS bosses about the serial killer months before police were called in.
Now, after the 33-year-old was jailed for life without the possibility of parole today, Dr Jayaram has unleashed his fury on hospital managers who he says ordered him and colleagues to apologise to the nurse after raising their concerns about her conduct.
Speaking to ITV News tonight, the paediatrician said he is angry at the failure of bosses to apologise given what has happened since police made the horrific findings in their investigation into the deaths, code named Operation Hummingbird.
He added that he was ‘incensed’ by attempts from hospital managers to try and justify their decisions after the full extent of Letby’s depraved crimes were revealed. Last night the director of nursing at the hospital while Letby was on her murder spree was suspended.
Dr Ravi Jayaram has blasted hospital bosses for failing to apologise over their alleged inaction in stopping Lucy Letby’s killing spree
Children’s nurse Lucy Letby (pictured in a custody photo, left; and while working in hospital, right) went on a year-long murder spree while working at the Countess of Chester Hospital
The TV doctor told ITV News that it was was ‘absolutely correct’ that Letby, who was jailed for life without the possibility of parole on Monday after being convicted of seven murders and six attempted murders, will spend the rest of her days behind bars.
READ MORE HERE: Heartbreaking statements of parents whose babies were murdered or maimed by Lucy Letby as they say, ‘We discovered evil disguised as a caring nurse’
He said: ‘But it doesn’t change the fact that parents of these babies and their families will never get back what’s been taken away from them. And it’s made me angry that she hasn’t had the courage to be there to face up to them.’
But he added that he was also furious with NHS managers who he says have failed to take responsibility for their actions that didn’t stop her sooner.
He said: ‘I think throughout this whole process there have been opportunities for those people who are at the top of the Countess of Chester to be able to put their hands up and admit that they got it wrong and apologise.
‘They could have done this very early on, the very moment that Operation Hummingbird was launched. They could have done it at the point that Lucy Letby was first arrested. They could have done this at the point she was first charged.
‘They could have done it as the trial progressed and more and more evidence came through. They certainly had a massive opportunity to do it on Friday when the verdicts were announced.
‘And part of being a professional is being able to admit you got it wrong, it’s about being able to admit, and have the balls to actually put your hands up and say “we made a terrible mistake, we can’t undo it, but we apologise”.
‘But instead, and this is what’s incensed me more than anything, they are still trying to find reasons why what they did was the right thing.
‘For example, one of them said we weren’t loud enough in expressing our concerns. How much louder could we be?’
A tearful Dr Jayaram added that he had been trying to do his job and ‘look after babies and children’ by raising his concerns.
Dr Stephen Brearey, lead consultant on the neonatal unit, raised concerns about Lucy Letby in October 2015
Medical Director Ian Harvey (pictured) is said to have clamped down on doctors who raised suspicions
Dr Jayaram said trust chief executive Tony Chambers (pictured) held a meeting with consultants in January 2017 in which he stated: ‘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.’
Senior NHS manager Alison Kelly (pictured) was accused in court of failing to act even when doctors raised ‘serious concerns’ about baby killer Lucy Letby
Last week the senior paediatrician said he believed if bosses had taken action sooner ‘four or five babies who could be going to school now who aren’t’.
After raising their concerns about Letby, a group of doctors at the Countess of Chester Hospital were advised by bosses to apologise to her or face a possible referral to the General Medical Council.
WHAT WAS LETBY CONVICTED OF?
Count 1 – Murder of Baby A on June 8, 2015 – GUILTY
Count 2 – Attempted murder of Baby B between the June 8, 2015 and June 11, 2015 – GUILTY
Count 3 – Murder of Baby C on June 14, 2015 – GUILTY
Count 4 – Murder of Baby D on June 22, 2015 – GUILTY
Count 5 – Murder of Baby E on August 4, 2015 – GUILTY
Count 6 – Attempted murder of Baby F on August 5, 2015 – GUILTY
Count 7 – Attempted murder of Baby G on September 7, 2015 – GUILTY
Count 8 – Attempted murder of Baby G on September 21, 2015 – GUILTY
Count 9 – Attempted murder of Baby G on September 21, 2015 – NOT GUILTY
Count 10 – Attempted murder of Baby H on September 26, 2015 – NOT GUILTY
Count 12 – Murder of Baby I on October 23, 2015 – GUILTY
Count 15 – Attempted murder of Baby L on April 9, 2016 – GUILTY
Count 16 – Attempted murder of Baby M on April 9, 2016 – GUILTY
Count 17 – Attempted murder of Baby N on June 3, 2016 – GUILTY
Count 20 – Murder of Baby O on June 23, 2016 – GUILTY
Count 21 – Murder of Baby P on June 24, 2016 – GUILTY
In a letter, which has been seen by ITV News, consultants allegedly wrote under duress: ‘Dear Lucy, we would like to apologise for any inappropriate comments that may have been made during this difficult period. We are very sorry for the stress and upset that you have experienced in the last year. Please be reassured that patient safety has been our absolute priority during this difficult time.’
Police would later be called into the hospital trust nearly two years after the deaths of the first of the seven babies Letby was convicted of murdering.
The Government has since ordered an independent inquiry into the circumstances behind her murder spree, but Dr Jayaram has said it doesn’t go far enough.
He told ITV News tonight: ‘There have been other inquiries into NHS scandals which have been statutory full public inquiries.
‘Why on earth would this be announced as a non-statutory inquiry? Is the priority speed?
‘I would much rather have an inquiry that asked the right questions and took as much time as it needed to get the right answers.’
Medical Director Ian Harvey is said to have clamped down on doctors who raised suspicions, telling them via email that there was ‘no smoking gun’ as Letby was allowed to return to the ward.
That’s despite the fact no babies died between when Letby was removed from the unit in July 2016 and when police were called in by the hospital in May 2017.
During this period, the trust chief executive was Tony Chambers and the medical director was Ian Harvey.
Dr Jayaram said Chambers held a meeting with consultants in January 2017 in which he stated: ‘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.’
Hospital executives are alleged to have doctors they would face ‘blue and white tape’ all over the ward if they followed their suggestion of calling police.
Both Baby O, a triplet, and his brother, Baby P, were murdered after the ‘Gang of Four’ consultants raised their suspicions about the link between the nurse’s presence and the deaths they had already witnessed.
The unit’s lead consultant Stephen Brearey even went back to management in the hours after Baby P’s death on June 24, 2016, begging them to take Letby off the ward. They refused.
Once police were finally called, after consultants demanded to speak to management face-to-face, Dr Jayaram told ITV it was only then that concerns were taken seriously.
During the course of their investigation officers discovered two baby boys, from separate sets of twins, had been ‘deliberately’ poisoned with insulin eight months apart.
The results of their blood tests had been missed by doctors who had no idea there was a ‘poisoner at work’.
Mr Harvey retired in August 2018 – a month after Letby was first arrested – after he reportedly notified Mr Chambers at the start of that year of his intention to retire.
He had held other managerial roles within the trust and was medical director for six years.
Speaking outside the Countess of Chester hospital on Friday, medical director Dr Nigel Scawn said: ‘I speak for the whole trust when I say how deeply saddened and appalled we are at Lucy Letby’s crimes’
Mr Chambers served six years in his post before he resigned in September 2018.
He said he made the decision to ‘allow the trust to focus on its future’ as the police investigation continued.
CLICK HERE to listen to The Mail+ podcast: The Trial of Lucy Letby
Former director of nursing Alison Kelly left the Countess of Chester in 2021 and works in a similar position at the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Salford Royal Hospital and Royal Oldham Hospital.
She has since been suspended from her position due to allegations that came to light in the court case.
Speaking outside the Countess of Chester Hospital on Friday, medical director Dr Nigel Scawn said: ‘I speak for the whole trust when I say how deeply saddened and appalled we are at Lucy Letby’s crimes.
‘We are extremely sorry that these crimes were committed at our hospital and our thoughts continue to be with all the families and loved ones of the babies who came to harm or died. We cannot begin to understand what they have been through.
‘This case has had a profound impact on our patients and our local community and also our staff, who come to work every day determined to provide safe and high quality care for all of our patients.
‘Our staff are devastated by what has happened and we are committed to ensuring that lessons continue to be learned.
‘We are grateful for the co-operation of our staff, especially those that have maintained the utmost professionalism while giving evidence in this trial.’
Dr Scawn walked away without answering as a journalist asked him: ‘Why did hospital managers try to stop Lucy Letby from being investigated?’
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