Lucy Letby:  Whistleblower doctor demands accountability from NHS managers

Dr Stephen Brearey, lead consultant on the neonatal unit, raised concerns about her in October 2015
Dr Stephen Brearey, lead consultant on the neonatal unit, raised concerns about her in October 2015

According to the senior doctor who initially brought up concerns about Lucy Letby, hospital administrators should be monitored in a manner that is comparable to that of doctors and nurses.

Dr. Stephen Brearey was the main consultant on the neonatal unit where serial killer Letby worked, and he was the one who sounded the alarm in October of 2015.

He stated on the Today show that broadcast on BBC Radio 4 that there was “no apparent accountability” for the actions taken by NHS managers in trusts.

On Monday, Letby was given a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole at the Manchester Crown Court.

Within a neonatal ward at the Countess of Chester Hospital in Cheshire, she was responsible for the murder of seven infants and the attempted murder of six others.

Between June and October of 2015, a total of five people were killed, and despite multiple months of warnings, the final two homicides weren’t committed until June of 2016.

During the course of an interview, Dr. Brearey made the assertion that senior staff members at the Countess of Chester Hospital were concerned about the organization’s reputation being damaged.

He claimed that instead of acting on his warnings, his life and the lives of his colleagues were made extremely difficult, to the point that they felt as though they were being attacked. “You go to senior colleagues with a problem, and you come away confused and anxious,” Dr. Brearey added. “You have no idea what to do next.”

In addition, he stated that his encounter was not an isolated incident in the NHS. Dr. Brearey stated that he had been approached by clinicians from throughout the United Kingdom “in the last three days.” These clinicians informed him that “clinicians raised concerns with senior members of the hospital and that doing so made their lives very difficult.”

He continued by saying, “I can’t stress enough how difficult of a position this places the clinician in,” and he said this several times. It is going to be quite challenging for you to carry out your clinical practise in that setting.

The consultant continued by saying, “Doctors and nurses are all subject to the regulatory bodies that we have to answer to, and quite often we’ll see senior managers who have no apparent accountability for what they do in our trusts and then move to other trusts.”

He stated that he is concerned about the future activities of senior managers and added that “there doesn’t seem to be any system to make them accountable, and for them to justify their actions in a systematic way.”
Dr. Brearey also stated that he did not consider himself to be a whistleblower. However, he explained that he “was simply trying to escalate concerns that all of my colleagues shared, of a spike in mortality, an association with a member of staff, the unusual nature of these events, and the unusual timing of these events.”

“We had reviewed all of the cases on multiple occasions with an outside expert and written down all of those concerns, and I felt like I was really just following a process rather than speaking out,” she said.

An NHS spokeswoman issued the following comment after the verdict was handed down the previous week: “It is absolutely vital that everyone working in the NHS feels they can raise concerns and that these are acted on. We have reminded NHS leaders about the importance of this following the verdict last week.”

They went on to say that every NHS trust is required to implement an updated Freedom to Speak Up policy, and it is the trust’s responsibility to make sure that the information is freely accessible to employees.
“Better protection for people who raise concerns,” Dr Naru Narayanan, head of the physicians’ union the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association, told Sky News there should be.

But “we see time and again that people who do so face retribution, revenge, and retaliation, and they fear for their careers,” Dr. Narayanan continued. “But we see time and again that people who do so face retribution, revenge, and retaliation.”
This is not the first time that someone has suggested that managers should be subject to professional oversight and control.

During the course of the last decade or so, a number of investigations and reports, such as the Francis Review into the incident at Stafford Hospital, have led to the development of recommendations for more managerial accountability within the health sector.

In order to practise medicine, medical professionals such as doctors and nurses are expected to meet certain fitness to practise requirements and be registered with a regulating organisation. This is done so that patients can have confidence that they will receive safe care from these professionals.

However, the managers of the NHS do not. In the year 2002, the establishment of a code of ethics required that managers work in a manner that was beneficial to patients and that they pay attention to complaints when they were voiced. Nevertheless, there is not a genuine national framework to guarantee that the code will be followed.

In recent years, the government has discussed the possibility of increasing the level of regulation, but nothing substantial has occurred to bring about a significant shift in the way that the NHS is managed.

There are worries over the cost as well as the introduction of additional regulation and red tape; nevertheless, proponents of regulation argue that it would also lead to the adoption of consistent training and standards for management. There is already an inspection system in place that covers all of the services provided by the NHS. This system’s purpose is to guarantee that all staff members, including managers, are providing safe treatment and that adequate processes are in place to address any instances in which this is not the case.

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On Friday, the government made the announcement that they will be conducting an impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding the Letby case.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan recommended that the investigation investigate whether or not NHS managers should be subject to the same levels of regulation as physicians.

Dr. Brearey has asserted that because of the “magnitude of the events that occurred” and the effect that Letby’s crimes have had on a large number of families, the investigation need to be presided over by a judge and be granted statutory powers, so that witnesses might be compelled to testify if it turns out that this is necessary. He went on to say that this is “obviously what the parents deserve.”

At this time, the investigation that has been announced is non-statutory, which indicates that its powers are limited.

When Ms. Keegan was asked if the investigation ought to be statutory, she responded that the possibility “is on the table” and “can be discussed.”

The purpose of the investigation is to investigate the wider circumstances around what took place, particularly how the concerns of professionals were handled.

Both the former chief executive of the hospital, Tony Chambers, and the former medical director of the hospital, Ian Harvey, who were in control during the period that Letby was working at the hospital, have stated that they will cooperate completely with the investigation that is currently being conducted.

Monday marked the beginning of Alison Kelly’s suspension from her position as director of nursing for Rochdale Care Organisation, which is a member of the Northern Care Alliance. Kelly had been the senior manager in charge of nursing at the time of her suspension. Her dismissal occurred “in light of information” that became available over the course of the trial.

In a separate development, there has been an uptick in the number of people requesting that the government pass a law that makes it mandatory for convicted individuals to appear in court for their sentencing. Letby did not appear in court on Monday at the Manchester Crown Court where he was scheduled to do so.

The judge continued with the proceeding without her presence and addressed her as though she were in the defendant’s box.

Letby was sentenced to numerous terms of life imprisonment, one for each offence, making her the fourth and only female in the history of the United Kingdom to be given a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. It is believed that this trial was the longest murder trial ever held in the UK, as it lasted for more than ten months total.

The Prime Minister of Nepal, Rishi Sunak, remarked that it was “cowardly” for those responsible for such heinous murders to avoid looking their victims in the eye.

The 33-year-old woman purposely poisoned two of the children with insulin and injected air into some of the kids. She also forcibly fed some of the children milk.