Doctor told murder-accused nurse Lucy Letby: 'I would trust you with my own child'

Lucy Letby worked at the Countess of Chester Hospital on the neo-natal unit. Credit: SWNS

A doctor told nurse Lucy Letby she was "one of a few nurses I would trust with my own children", jury at her murder trial has heard.

Letby messaged the medic just hours after she finished a shift at the Countess of Chester Hospital's neonatal unit, where a baby boy, who was in her care, suddenly collapsed.

The 33-year-old is accused of attempting to murder the infant, Child Q, on 25 June 2016 after she allegedly murdered two triplets Child O and Child P two days before.

Mother and Children's unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

The prosecution says the nurse killed them after she returned from a holiday in Ibiza.Between June 2015 and June 2016, Letby allegedly murdered seven babies and attempted to murder 10 others.

Earlier in the trial at Manchester Crown Court in March, consultant Dr John Gibbs said the triplets' deaths were a "tipping point" and he had a concern about the rising "accumulating number of inexplicable collapses" an "association" to Letby.

During Letby's shift on 25 June, the Lead neonatal consultant Dr Stephen Brearey told jurors on a previous occasion that he pleaded to an executive to prevent her from working, however it was unsuccessful.

On Friday 31 March, the court read a series of Facebook messages between Letby and a registrar, who cannot be named for legal reasons, which were sent in the evening of 25 June.

Countess of Chester Hospital. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

Letby asked him: "Do I need to be worried about what Dr Gibbs was asking?"

The doctor replied: "No. He was asking to make sure that normal procedures were being carried out. What exactly did he ask?"

Letby said: "I walked into equipment room, he was asking Mary (a nurse) who was present in room and how quickly someone had gone to him as I wasn't in the room.

"He asked who was there. I said I had popped out of room but Mary was in room and Minna (another nurse) at the desk."

The doctor responded: "All he was doing was checking there wasn't a delay and that a room had been left empty. There is nothing to worry about."

Letby told him she was "worried" because of her absence but said she was in the intensive care room with another baby in her care.

The doctor said: "You can't be with two babies in different nurseries at the same time, let alone predict when they're going to crash..."

"I know and I didn't leave him on his own. They both knew I was leaving the room. Feel better now," Letby replied.

The doctor said: "Nobody has accused you of neglecting a baby or causing a deterioration."

Letby said: "I know. Just worry I haven't done enough. We've lost two babies I was caring for and now this happened today, makes you think 'am I missing something/good enough'."

The doctor said: "Lucy, if anyone knows how hard you've worked over the last three days it's me.

"The standard of care delivered is tertiary NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) level.

"If *anybody* says something to you about being not good enough or performing adequately I want you to promise me that you'll give my details to provide a statement.

"I don't care who it is and I don't care if I've left the trust. Promise?"

Letby responded: "Well I sincerely hope I won't ever be needing a statement. But thank you, I promise."

The doctor said: "And I don't either. You'll know that the COCH (Countess of Chester) mortality rate is a bit higher than the network average.

"It makes people (consultants) look at trends and patterns. That may have been why Dr G came to ask.

"As for the self-doubt - you have asked me this morning did I dream because I was worried about having missed something?

"No more doubt - it's not you, it's the babies. I don't know what happened to (Child O and P) and accept that the pm (post-mortem) may not give any useful answers.

"I do wonder if they may have had adenovirus it's terrible in neonates/perinates.

"(Child Q) is different. His behaviour is more bacterial."

Letby replies: "Thanks, really appreciate you saying that. So relieved that it's you who has been there throughout."

The doctor said: "It's true. You are one of a few nurses in the region (I've worked pretty much everywhere) that I would trust with my own children.

"If you're worried - I'm worried. You should do the APNP (advanced paediatrics) course, you'd be excellent it's true."

Letby said: "Don't know what to say. Thank you."

The doctor replied: "Self doubt finished?"

Letby said: "I think so, thank you."

The next day, when Letby was off rota, she messaged a nursing colleague: "I worry that we've got a bug or virus or something on unit."

The colleague replied: "Would explain a lot. Hope get answers for triplets parents after how things went for (Child I)."

Letby replied: "Definitely."

Letby, originally from Hereford, denies all the allegations. The trial continues on Monday 3 April.