Dr Ravi Jayaram is a Consultant Paediatrician at the Countess of Chester Hospital, Chester, and among the senior medics who raised the alarm over fears for the lives of babies in the care of a nurse from the hospital who has now been convicted of killing seven babies.
The UK-born and trained doctor, who is also a known television personality with appearances on health shows, has spoken of his nightmares of what he had seen with nurse Lucy Letby – sentenced to a whole-life sentence in Manchester on August 21. He also demanded an explanation from those in charge between 2015 and 2016 when at least 13 babies were attacked by the 33-year-old, now behind bars as one of the UK’s worst criminals in history.
“There are people out there still earning six-figure sums of taxpayers’ money, or retired with their gold-plated pensions, who need to stand up in public to explain why they did not want to listen and do the right thing,” he said on social media.
In an interview with ITV after the verdict, Dr Jayaram recalled the first moment when his fears about the nurse were confirmed.
He said: “That is a night that is etched on my memory and will be in my nightmares forever. As I walked towards the incubator, I could see on the monitors that the oxygen saturations were dropping, and they'd dropped to a level that ordinarily the alarms would've been going off and the nurse would've called for help.
“Lucy Letby was standing by the top of the incubator. She didn't have her hands in the incubator. She was just standing there.”
Dr Jayaram believes a few lives could have been saved if his alarms and that of some of the other doctors were heeded to after the first three babies died suddenly in June 2015.
“I do genuinely believe that there are four or five babies who could be going to school now who aren't," he said.
Last week, there were shockwaves as Letby was found guilty of the murder of seven newborn babies and also guilty of seven counts of attempted murder relating to six other babies by a jury at Manchester Crown Court. During her trial, which began in October last year, the court heard that doctors at the hospital began to notice a significant rise in the number of babies who were dying or were unexpectedly collapsing. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) presented evidence of Letby using various methods to attack babies, including: the injection of air and insulin into their bloodstream; the infusion of air into their gastrointestinal tract; force feeding an overdose of milk or fluids; impact-type trauma. Her intention was to kill the babies while deceiving her colleagues into believing there was a natural cause, the jury was told.
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Pascale Jones of the CPS said: “Lucy Letby sought to deceive her colleagues and pass off the harm she caused as nothing more than a worsening of each baby’s existing vulnerability. In her hands, innocuous substances like air, milk, fluids – or medication like insulin – would become lethal. She perverted her learning and weaponised her craft to inflict harm, grief and death.
“Time and again, she harmed babies, in an environment which should have been safe for them and their families. Her attacks were a complete betrayal of the trust placed in her.”
Letby was first arrested in July 2018 and subsequently charged in November 2020. The UK government has now launched an independent inquiry to investigate the wider circumstances around what happened at the Countess of Chester Hospital, including the handling of concerns and governance. It will also look at what actions were taken by regulators and the wider National Health Service (NHS).
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UK Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: “I would like to send my deepest sympathy to all the parents and families impacted by this horrendous case.
“This inquiry will seek to ensure the parents and families impacted get the answers they need. I am determined their voices are heard, and they are involved in shaping the scope of the inquiry should they wish to do so.”