Neonatal nurse Lucy Letby claimed today that she had no recollection of a paediatrician walking into a nursery to find her standing next to a baby’s incubator and ‘doing nothing’ as the infant lay fighting for her life.
Dr Ravi Jayaram has previously told Letby’s murder trial in Manchester how he felt an ‘irrational’ compulsion to go and check that Baby K was safe while Letby was briefly ‘babysitting’ her for a colleague.
By then he and some of his colleagues at the Countess of Chester Hospital had become aware of a series of unexplained collapses on the unit and the fact that these coincided with Letby’s presence.
Dr Jayaram’s recollection was that as he entered Nursery 1 in the early hours of February 17, 2016, he saw Letby standing beside the incubator, but without her hands being inside it as he would have expected.
‘I saw her and looked at the monitor, and on the monitor the sats were dropping. The ventilator was not alarming and the monitor wasn’t alarming.
Letby denied murdering five boys and two girls and trying to kill 10 other babies during trial
The neonatal nurse is currently giving evidence at her trial and has denied all wrongdoing
‘I recall saying ‘What’s happening?’ Lucy looked at me and said something like ‘She’s having a desaturation’.
Today Letby, 33, rejected Dr Jayaram’s account, insisting there had never been a time when he had come in to see her standing close to Baby K.
She had no recollection of any conversation with him that night, and she rejected the prosecution’s allegation that she had interfered with the infant’s endotracheal breathing tube.
Similarly, she had neither switched off the baby’s alarm nor de-activated the sound.
At one point Ben Myers KC, defending, asked: ‘Was there a time when you were in the nursery and Ravi Jayaram came in to see you standing there close to (Baby) K?’
Letby replied: ‘No’.
Mr Myers then asked if the paediatrician had said anything to her like ‘What’s going on here?’
‘No,’ said Letby. ‘I don’t recall any conversation with Dr Jayaram that night’.
Her barrister asked whether she accepted that she had even been in the nursery. Again she replied no.
Letby told Mr Myers she had given similar denials to detectives when they interviewed her about Dr Jayaram’s allegations.
She recalled the officers telling her she was said to have been standing next to the incubator, but denied it was true. Asked whether she agreed that things had happened ‘in the way Dr Jayaram says’, she replied: ‘No’.
Letby is accused of murdering five boys and two girls and trying to kill 10 others at the Countess of Chester Hospital from June 2015 to June 2016.
She denies all the charges against her.
Earlier, Letby complained about staffing levels on the neonatal unit, saying there were sometimes too few nurses to cope with the number of babies being admitted.
On some shifts Band 4 nursery nurses were being asked to do tasks that should have been done by more qualified colleagues.
Lucy Letby, 33, (pictured) originally from Hereford, is accused of carrying out a spree of murders between June 2015 and 2016. She denies all the charges against her
The court was shown a WhatsApp message she sent to her best friend – a fellow nurse on the unit – in which she referred to nursery nurses dealing with the stomas of Baby J.
She wrote on November 19, 2015: ‘It’s shocking really that they are willing to take the responsibility for things that they have no training or experience etc on. Don’t think they appreciate the potential difficulties x’.
Asked by Mr Myers why Band 4 nurses would have taken on that responsibility, she said they would have been allocated the task by the shift leader. She added: ‘The unit was so busy at the time’.
On November 25 she messaged the same nurse to say she had missed three calls from the unit while at a salsa session.
It turned out that colleagues on the night shift did not know how to give immunoglobulin and they had rung her because ‘I was the last person to give’.
A shift leader had described the situation as ‘mad’, and Letby went on to say that Dr Jayaram was there. ‘What a nightmare it’s all getting’, she wrote, suggesting the unit was so stretched the medics might have to send some of their babies to other hospitals.
Letby was the designated nurse for Baby J on the night shift of November 27 into November 28. There had been no issues with her care of the infant, and she had messaged a colleague to say the situation on the unit was ‘much better.’
This meant that the workload was more manageable, she told Mr Myers.
He then asked if a ‘nicer, lighter’ workload was something she wanted.
‘Yes,’ she replied.
The trial continues. Letby denies all charges.