Whistleblowers must be supported to prevent future tragedies

02 September 2023
Volume 34 · Issue 9

As the country reels from coverage of the conviction of Lucy Letby, a nurse now known to be the UK's most prolific killer of children, many, not least those working in the NHS have asked a simple question: how did this happen?

Despite enormous speculation, no one has discerned any concrete motive as to why Ms Letby, in the words of the sentencing judge, acted ‘in gross breach of the trust that all citizens place in those who work in the medical and caring professions.’

However, there is one grimly familiar detail the case has in common with other tragedies such as the Mid-Staffs scandal: disregard for whistleblowers.

Dr Stephen Brearey was the lead clinician in the hospital's neonatal unit, who first raised concerns about Ms Letby. Since her conviction, he has said that his concerns were continually ignored by managers.

When the organisation visited the Countess of Chester Hospital, the CQC commented that their discussions with the trust's medical director included the reports by staff of alleged challenges in raising concerns with managers but denied that the high mortality rate had been highlighted to them during the visit.

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