Killer nurse Lucy Letby 'could not wait' to tell others about baby's death, colleague says

  • Lucy Letby's colleague Abby Lever spoke to ITV Granada Reports journalist Emma Sweeney

Lucy Letby 'could not wait' to rush over and tell a nurse arriving for her shift that another baby had died, a former colleague has said.

Abby Lever, worked on the Countess of Chester's neonatal unit, alongside Letby, who has since been sentenced to a whole life order after being convicted of murdering seven babies and attempting to murder six others between 2015 and 2016.

The killer nurse was quick to grab another colleague as she began her shift to inform her a triplet who had been under their care had died earlier in the day.

Baby O, who was considered to be in a good condition, was murdered by Letby on 23 June 2016 as she returned from a holiday in Ibiza.

Abby says as she walked onto the ward Letby spotted them both, rushing over to deliver the news, believing "she couldn't wait to tell the nurse".

"I worked the night before, and came back in for a night shift and [Baby O] had gone in the day," Abby said.

"I was walking on to the ward with another member of staff and she [Letby] quickly rushed over, as soon as we got through the door, to pull the other member of staff into the kitchen because she'd been on the night before looking after one of the triplets.

"It was a case of she couldn't wait to tell the nurse, I think.

"She wanted to inform her before she arrived on the ward I suppose.

"I think for me, there was a camera looking at people coming into the ward, so she was obviously watching."

Lucy Letby was jailed for life for murdering seven babies and attempting to murder six more Credit: Cheshire Police

Abby only worked with Letby for a few months before hospital bosses removed her from the ward in July 2016.

She said, although she could understand the reasons behind Letby telling her colleague the news, she would have waited much longer.

"Obviously, as a nurse if I was looking after that baby I'd have wanted the politeness of being informed before it being in handover," she added.

"But I probably would have just let the nurse get herself together first and then before the ward meeting bring her in and say this has happened in the day."

Abby says she struggled to warm to Letby, saying she was "like marmite", and you either got on with her or you did not.

She said: "She seemed quite quiet, kept herself to herself, she's not specifically someone I really warmed to.

"I try and be friends with everybody, and naturally you're drawn to some more than others.

"Even her friends on the unit - I would always make an effort with them, and I suppose certain people if something happened you'd get in touch with them and you'd check they're ok, but she's never one that I would feel comfortable I'd talk to outside of work.

"I don't know why because there was nothing that I can pinpoint, but she was just not someone I looked to get to know."

She added "I wasn't drawn to her I suppose as I was to a lot of others on the unit.

"I don't know why, she was just not someone I clicked with.

"She didn't stand out to me as anybody somebody shouldn't be worried about, we all came into nursing because it's a caring profession and I want to make a difference.

"You don't really expect it as a nurse, you assume everyone has the same values and compassion as you have."

The nurse said once two of the triplets, Babies O and P, had died, the dynamics on the ward - which had been classed as a Tier 2 unit, and was responsible for providing short-term intensive care for sick and premature babies born between 27 and 32 weeks - changed.

"To have two babies go in one week on a Level 2 unit was a bit drastic and it did kind of make me think 'well this is a bit odd'," she said.

"Coming from a Level 3 unit initially it was a little bit expected because we took 23-weekers, we took the more cardiac issues.

"Granted it didn't happen very often, you might have three a week but then you don't see anything for six months to a year, but to then get two 34-weekers consecutively, it was a bit alarming."

She said shortly after the deaths of Babies O and P there had been rumours circulating that the consultants were "bullying Lucy".

"I think a lot of people were wondering why Lucy was removed," Abby added.

"There were a lot of unanswered questions, and then it gets you thinking well actually is the finger going to be pointed at me, you worry about what to say.

"But there were a couple of select people that were quite supportive of Lucy and others that just wanted to know what was going on.

"It changed the dynamics of the ward to a degree because you'd perhaps have a conversation with a few people on the ward, but then if certain people were on then you wouldn't necessarily mention Lucy because you don't want to get their backs up.

"It ended up in two camps, but with a select few that were quite supportive of Lucy and wouldn't hear anything of it.

"I'd never experienced anything like that before."

Lucy Letby will now spend the rest of her life in prison. Credit: Cheshire Constabulary

Abby says in the early days following Letby's removal staff were trying to work out what had happened, and why.

"A lot of people were just wondering if it has happened, how has it happened, how have we all missed it?

"Everything is meant to be second-checked, so how have we all missed it?

"Everyone was just shocked because you're just not expecting it, you come into nursing because you're a caring and loving person and you want to make a difference - there were a lot of unanswered questions."

She said that "most people were probably relieved when she didn't come back" on to the ward after she had been removed.

"There were still two camps once she had been charged with murder," she added.

"I think a lot of people and obviously again since she'd been removed there hadn't been any more, I was only there for another year before maternity leave, and there weren't any more deaths."

The Countess of Chester has been accused of a cover-up after numerous consultants raised concerns about serial killer nurse Letby before she was caught.

Rob Behrens, the NHS Ombudsman, published a letter written to the Health Secretary in August asking for a wider review into the culture and leadership in the NHS.

It follows concerns some paediatricians were made to apologise to Letby after raising concerns about her with senior managers.

When asked about the management at the hospital at the time, who say they did not know about Letby until the very end, Abby says she believes some changes could have been brought in sooner, but she could understand why bosses acted as they did.

"As a hospital they do keep track of mortality and death rates," she said. "Surely there should have been a bit more of a trigger and investigation sooner, because, as a unit regardless of Lucy maybe there might have been some changes they could have brought in sooner.

"At the time, it did get busier, maybe they could have looked at staffing levels etc, but you can see why they tried to keep it in house for now, it is a big accusation to make, and you can see why they tried to make it hush hush.

"Because you are changing someone's life if they are innocent or guilty.

"I think they were worried about reputational damage."

The Countess of Chester has been approached for comment.

As Letby becomes the most prolific serial child killer in modern Britain, we look at how she managed to slip under the radar for so long, carrying out her attacks unchallenged for a year in the latest episode of From the North