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Breaking: NMC to strike off Lucy Letby from professional register

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has announced that it will strike off convicted murderer Lucy Letby from its professional register.

Letby, 33, was working as a neonatal nurse at Countess of Chester NHS Foundation Trust when she murdered seven babies and attempted to kill six more between June 2015 and June 2016.

“Her conduct was so egregious it cannot be remediated and is highly likely to be repeated”

Bernard Herdan

She was sentenced to life in prison in August 2023 after a 10-month trial at Manchester Crown Court.

At the trial, the court heard that Letby used methods such as injecting air into their bloodstream, overfeeding and insulin poisoning to harm the infants.

Today, an NMC fitness to practise (FTP) hearing formally struck Letby off the register, deeming her crimes as “fundamentally incompatible” with being a registered nurse.

However, in spite of her conviction, she continued to maintain her innocence.

NMC barrister Christopher Scott told the hearing, which took place in Letby’s absence, that the case against the registrant was based on her 14 criminal convictions – and that her ongoing attempts to overturn them in the Court of Appeal could not be considered.

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Mr Scott recommended that the FTP panel, chaired by lay panellist Dr Bernard Herdan, strike Letby off the nursing register.

In a statement provided to the panel, Letby said she did not resist the application to strike her off the register, adding: “I accept the fact of the convictions.

“However, I do not accept I am guilty of any of the allegations. I maintain my innocence in respect of all the convictions. They are now the subject of an appeal.”

The FTP panel, after a short adjournment, moved to decide if she was impaired.

Mr Scott submitted evidence from the sentencing remarks of Mr Justice Gross, the judge who handed Letby life in prison at the Crown Court.

He said the judge’s remarks painted a “powerful and terrible” picture, and pointed in particular to the following passage: “You acted in a way that was completely contrary to the normal human instincts of nurturing and caring for babies and in gross breach of the trust that all citizens place in those who work in the medical and caring professions.

“The babies you harmed were born prematurely and some were at risk of not surviving, but in each case you deliberately harmed them intending to kill them.”

Mr Scott said Letby’s offending has had “a profound impact on the reputation of the nursing profession”, and that she had breached the four principles of nursing.

“[Letby]’s statement was not indicative of insight,” he added.

“She failed to make a mention of her victims or the many people she affected. She refused to attend her sentencing hearing, refused to listen to the victim personal statement, and refused to face the judge who sentenced her.”

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He reiterated his recommendation that Letby be found impaired, and said: “Her convictions were so serious that they cannot be remediated.

“A failure to find she was impaired would provoke a crisis of public confidence [in nursing],” he said.

“The harm she caused is so egregious, the lack of remorse and insight she displayed so striking, that a finding of impairment is necessary for the protection of the public.”

The panel agreed, and found that Letby’s fitness to practise was impaired.

Dr Herdan said he and the other panellists found the judge’s sentencing remarks particularly impactful in their decision.

“We echoed the judge’s remarks that this was a cruel campaign […] over a 13 month period, and we are satisfied she caused significant harm to patients and are of a view that her conduct was so egregious it cannot be remediated and is highly likely to be repeated,” he said.

Mr Scott finished by presenting the NMC’s case for Ms Letby to be sanctioned via a striking off order.

He said no other sanction would be appropriate and encouraged the panel to “robustly and quickly dispense” with any alternatives.

“Anything less than a striking off would be insufficient,” he said. “If there was ever a case which was fundamentally incompatible with ongoing registration – it is this one.”

After a further adjournment, Dr Herdan told the hearing that the panel agreed only a striking off order would be sufficient and proportionate.

“We are of the view that Letby’s actions are so serious that to allow her to practice would be to create an unacceptable risk to the public,” he said.

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He added: “This order is necessary to mark the importance of maintaining confidence in the profession.”

The panel also imposed an interim suspension order on Letby, in order to cover the 28-day appeal period before the substantive striking-off order comes into effect.

Commenting on the ruling, Andrea Sutcliffe, NMC chief executive and registrar, said: “The thoughts and sympathies of everyone at the NMC remain with the parents, families and children whose lives have been so terribly impacted by Lucy Letby’s heinous and heart-breaking crimes.

“As soon as there was a verdict in the criminal trial, we moved forward with our own fitness to practise proceedings as quickly as possible, and we can confirm that an independent panel has today ordered that Ms Letby be struck off the register.

“This will take effect in January when Ms Letby will cease to be a registered nurse. In the meantime, she remains under interim suspension from the register,” she said.

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