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Lucy Letby still paid by hospital for years after arrest for baby murders



Serial killer nurse Lucy Letby was still being paid her NHS salary years after her murderous rampage ended, The Independent can reveal.

Britain’s most prolific killer of children, who is serving a whole-life sentence for murdering seven babies and attempting to murder six others between 2015 and 2016, continued to be paid until she was charged with the horrific crimes in 2020.

That meant she was still receiving her salary from the Countess of Chester Hospital four years after she killed the last child and two years after she was first arrested.

As a “band 5” in 2019-20, with more than 7 years’ experience, Lucy Letby would have been earning a base salary of £30,112 per year, according to the pay scale published by NHS Employers.

The hospital, which was the scene of Letby’s shocking crimes, told The Independent: “Lucy Letby was formally charged by Cheshire Police in November 2020, and at that point her employment ended. She has not been paid by the trust since her employment ended.”

Letby was first arrested in 2018 and again in 2019 before being formally charged in 2020. During that period she was suspended from her role on the neonatal ward on full pay.

The news comes after The Independent revealed that the Department of Health and Social Care intends to strip Letby of her NHS pension.

Health secretary Steve Barclay, who has the power to block pension payouts, is looking into all possible measures that could prevent it from being paid to her, The Independent understands.

The NHS Pension Scheme Regulations allow Mr Barclay to stop a pension from being paid if an NHS employee is convicted of a crime – particularly one that is “gravely injurious to the state or … liable to lead to serious loss of confidence in the public service”.


Doctor who helped catch Lucy Letby describes seeing her stood over sick baby

Based on her salary range, and with an annual NHS pension contribution of 8.8 per cent plus an average personal contribution of 5 per cent, Letby would have amassed between £31,360 and £40,944 in pension savings over her eight years of employment.

Meanwhile, the families of her victims may be entitled to just £13,000 compensation under the NHS bereavement award system, which was set up for those who have lost loved ones due to negligence.

A solicitor representing the families of Letby’s victims called for the payout to be increased due to the seriousness of the case, as seven of the families plan to launch a separate civil action against the hospital.

The news comes amid growing calls for a full statutory inquiry to be launched into the NHS failures that allowed Letby to continue killing children months after senior doctors had first raised concerns.

Mr Barclay announced that an independent inquiry would be held after the verdicts were returned, but the grieving families of Letby’s victims, along with whistleblowers and campaigners, are concerned that it would lack the legal powers needed to compel those who might come under scrutiny to give evidence.

Dame Vera Baird KC, the former national victims’ commissioner, is the latest person to add her weight to calls for the inquiry to be strengthened.



Lucy Letby was still being paid by the hospital two years after she was arrested

(PA)


She told The Independent there “must be a duty of candour” and called for a “radical change of attitude” towards victims. “Poor grieving victims are treated as partisan and their views are downgraded. The scepticism of a complacent establishment,” she added.

The Liberal Democrats’ health spokesperson, Daisy Cooper, told The Independent: “Letby should never have been able to literally get away with murder for so long.

“This latest revelation raises yet more serious questions, and reinforces the need for a statutory inquiry so that all the facts can be established and to ensure such heinous acts cannot happen again. The families of the victims must be able to get the answers they deserve.”

Downing Street said on Monday that “all options are on the table”, suggesting that ministers were considering whether to upgrade the status of the inquiry.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council, which regulates nurses, suspended Letby from the nurses’ register after she was charged, but has still not formally erased her. Following the verdicts, it said it would now look to strike her off.

Last week, the former chief executive of the hospital where Letby worked, Tony Chambers, who is among those to have been criticised heavily for ignoring warnings about Letby, left his role with an NHS pension worth £1m, according to a report in The Daily Telegraph.

And Alison Kelly, who was the chief nurse when Letby killed and attacked babies at the Countess of Chester Hospital, has been suspended from her current role at the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust in Salford.


Rishi Sunak calls Lucy Letby ‘cowardly’ for refusing to attend her sentencing

Ms Kelly has been accused of “ignoring” concerns raised by doctors about Letby from as early as June 2015, and of “protecting” her. She has said she will cooperate with the independent inquiry.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We have ordered an independent inquiry into the circumstances behind the horrific murders and attempted murders of babies at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

“The inquiry has been launched to learn vital lessons and provide answers to the parents and families impacted. We will appoint a chair and set out its terms of reference shortly.”

This story was amended to reflect the NHS pay scale for 2019-20.

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