August 24, 2023

The case of Lucy Letby

This post was written by: Laaibah Bhatti

Neonatal nurse Lucy Letby, who is the UK’s most prolific child serial killer in modern British history, will spend the rest of her life behind bars.

The 33-year-old was convicted on Friday of murdering seven babies and attempting to kill six other infants at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

Letby deliberately injected babies with air, force-fed others milk and poisoned two of the infants with insulin.

There are valuable lessons that employers can draw from this situation, both in order to uphold workplace safety measures and to protect the public or its clients at large.

  • Vigilance in Hiring and Employment

One of the key takeaways from the Lucy Letby case is the importance of a rigorous hiring process. Employers must conduct thorough background checks and safety assessments before hiring individuals for sensitive roles. Ongoing training, monitoring and performance evaluations should also be carried out alongside spot-checks (both planned and unplanned).  All of these may take time but they are crucial in helping to identify any potential issues.

  • Fostering a culture of open communication

The case further indicates the need for a culture that encourages employees to raise concerns without fear of retaliation. Establishing clear channels for reporting issues and protecting whistleblowers can help prevent potential problems from escalating.

Much has been discussed in this case about doctors having raised concerns about Letby to no avail.  Often, the people tasked with investigating such matters require better and constant training also. 

Outside assistance and advice should always be sought in the more serious cases.

  • Effective internal investigations

Organisations should have a well-defined procedure for conducting internal investigations in response to concerns. In situations involving potential misconduct, a thorough and fair process is essential.

The law requires that employers at reasonably I the investigation and any hearings.  Employers are not however required to undertake investigations to the same standard as a criminal investigation.  Despite this, employers should ensure their staff are adequately trained and use consultants or take legal advice as appropriate.

  • Employee well being

Employees involved in sensitive cases as suspects or witnesses, may experience significant emotional stress. Offer support resources, including counselling services, to help employees cope during these challenging times.

The Lucy Letby case serves as a reminder to all organisations, especially those in the healthcare industry or those working with the most vulnerable in our society, of managing and investigating situations effectively.

We believe that by putting into practice the lessons learned from the Lucy Letby case, employers can cultivate a workplace environment that embodies transparency, accountability, and unwavering commitment to the welfare of both employees and those they serve.

For any employment queries, contact our employment solicitor Ilinca Mardarescu at 01754 386777 or