This is an oral statement given to the House of Commons by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay MP, to update on the Lucy Letby statutory inquiry.
On 18 August 2023, Lucy Letby was found guilty of murdering seven babies and convicted of trying to kill six other infants at the Countess of Chester Hospital. In the wake of this verdict, the Government had announced that there would be an independent inquiry into the circumstances behind the murders and attempted murders of the babies at Countess of Chester Hospital. In this statement to the House of Commons the Minister said that:
- This will be a statutory inquiry with the power to compel witnesses to give evidence under oath.
- This inquiry will examine the case’s wider circumstances, including the Trust’s response to clinicians who raised the alarm, and the conduct of the wider NHS and its regulators.
- The inquiry will be led by Lady Justice Thirlwall, one of the country’s most senior judges who currently sits in the Court of Appeal.
Patient safety updates
In addition to the Lucy Letby statutory inquiry, the Minister also provided an update on several other patient safety issues, including the following points:
- Secondary legislation will be tabled shortly to move Medical Examiners, who scrutinise hospital deaths and are present at all acute trusts, onto a statutory basis.
- NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care are now reconsidering the implementation of recommendation 5 from the Kark Review on disbarring senior managers.
- NHS England have been asked to review guidance that permits Board Members to be Freedom to Speak Up Guardians, to ensure these roles provide independent challenge to boards.
- The Get it Right First Time Programme team will launch a centralised and regularly updated dataset to monitor the safety and quality of national neonatal services.
- The Government will explore introducing Martha’s Rule to the UK. This would be a three-step process that allows patients or their families to request a clinical review of their case from a doctor or nurse if their condition is deteriorating or not improving as expected.
- Baroness Lampard, who led the Department of Health’s inquiry into the crimes of Jimmy Saville, has agreed to chair the statutory inquiry into NHS mental health inpatient facilities across Essex.
The oral statement was followed by questions to the Secretary of State on these issues by Members of Parliament, which can be found in full in Hansard here.