Mother of baby in Lucy Letby case tells of inadequate care at hospital

The mother of a baby girl allegedly harmed by nurse Lucy Letby was “utterly shocked” at her sudden collapse, a court heard.

Letby, 33, is accused of attempting to murder the infant, Child J, who suffered a seizure at the Countess of Chester Hospital’s neo-natal unit on November 27 2015.

Giving evidence at Manchester Crown Court on Friday, Child J’s mother said she and her husband had been “really excited” at the prospect of taking their daughter home.

She said Child J was “extremely well” after undergoing emergency bowel surgery at Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital a day after her birth at the Countess of Chester.

She told the court: “I received a phone call from a withheld number basically informing me to get to the hospital very quickly because she had collapsed.

“When we got to the hospital (Child J) was in a hot cot in room 2, their high dependency unit.

“She was connected back up to a heart monitor. She looked very floppy. She was very pale, yellowy in colour and not very responsive.

“We were totally and utterly just shocked because, prior to this, she was extremely well. She was coming home. We were preparing for her to come home.

“We stayed over that night at the hospital and she recovered quite quickly.

“It was established there was not an infection and the cause was unknown at that stage.”

The court heard Child J returned from Alder Hey to the Countess of Chester (pictured) on November 10. Child J’s mother told Ben Myers KC, defending, she did not think staff at Chester had the same competence and ability to help manage two stomas – openings in the abdomen – given to allow the bowel to rest after surgery.

She said: “If we raised concerns to the Countess of Chester, I didn’t feel like on occasions they were treated very seriously.”

Child J’s mother said she also raised “frequent” concerns about the infant’s lack of weight gain which were “not met with any changes really”.

Mr Myers asked: “Did it strike you from comparing the two of them (the hospitals) that Chester did not have the resources, expertise or time to commit to (Child J’s) needs?”

“Yes,” replied the witness.

In his opening statement to the jurors last October, Mr Myers said the Countess of Chester Hospital was “well out of its depth” with Child J and knowing how to treat her.

He said an assumption of deliberate harm had been made rather than an alternative explanation of a baby receiving inadequate care.

The Crown said a medical expert will say Child J’s collapse was “of concern and consistent with some form of obstruction of her airways, such as smothering”.

Child J went on to undergo more bowel surgery and was discharged home in January 2016.

Letby, originally from Hereford, denies murdering seven babies and attempting to murder 10 others between June 2015 and June 2016.

The trial continues on Monday.

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