Government orders independent inquiry following Lucy Letby verdict

• Inquiry announced into circumstances behind the murders and attempted murders of babies at Countess of Chester Hospital to help ensure families get the answers they need
• The inquiry will look at the circumstances surrounding the deaths and incidents, including how concerns raised by clinicians were dealt with
• Victims’ families will be invited to both engage with and shape the inquiry, ensuring their views are heard throughout the process

The government has ordered an independent inquiry into the circumstances behind the horrific murders and attempted murders of babies at the Countess of Chester Hospital, following the guilty verdict in the trial of former neonatal nurse Lucy Letby.

Launched to ensure vital lessons are learned and to provide answers to the parents and families impacted, the inquiry will investigate the wider circumstances around what happened at the Countess of Chester Hospital, including the handling of concerns and governance. It will also look at what actions were taken by regulators and the wider NHS.

It will ensure the families impacted in this tragic case have the opportunity to engage with the inquiry. 

The government is committed to making the NHS one of the safest places in the world to give birth, and every single parent across the country deserves to feel confident that their babies are receiving safe and world-class treatment.

Work continues across England to ensure the highest possible standard of maternity and neonatal care.

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: 

“I would like to send my deepest sympathy to all the parents and families impacted by this horrendous case.

“This inquiry will seek to ensure the parents and families impacted get the answers they need. I am determined their voices are heard, and they are involved in shaping the scope of the inquiry should they wish to do so.

“Following on from the work already underway by NHS England, it will help us identify where and how patient safety standards failed to be met and ensure mothers and their partners rightly have faith in our healthcare system.”

After careful consideration, a non-statutory independent inquiry was found to be the most appropriate option, building on the approach taken in other cases. It will focus on lessons that can be learned quickly.  

The police have arrangements in place to appropriately support families who have been directly impacted by this awful case, including psychological support and family liaison officers.

The Trust is offering as much support as necessary to any current or anticipated users of its neonatal and transitional care services. Senior clinical and nursing staff are also on standby to help and offer advice so families rightly feel supported.

A chair will be appointed, and we will publish the inquiry’s proposed Terms of Reference – setting out the scope of the work – in due course.