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World News

Letby case has damaged trust in healthcare says Christian doctor

by Donna Birrell

There are calls for hospital managers to be regulated in the same way as doctors and nurses after it emerged that hospital managers ignored consultants' concerns over Lucy Letby.

The former nurse was jailed for the rest of her life after being found guilty of murdering seven babies in her care at the Countess of Chester Hospital - along with the attempted murder of six others.

Christian Medical Fellowship has just set up a support network for healthcare management as well as doctors, nurses and non-clinicians. Dr Mark Pickering from the Fellowship tells Premier about the impact the case is having on the medical profession :

“It’s been such a shocking revelation to hear the details. I think the damage to trust in healthcare, staff and nursing in particular has just been immense. I think so many of us are thinking how could that happen? How could a person who's meant to care for the most vulnerable be there intending to harm them? Patients are suddenly thinking, ‘Can I trust this person in front of me, they seem caring, but are they actually this malevolent presence?’ Like Lucy Letby appears to have been.

“So it's really cut to the heart of health care and it's affecting both patients and parents and staff as well. “

CMF represents almost 5000 doctors, nurses, and midwives. Dr Pickering says all staff need to be supported and know they will be listened to :

“There’s clearly an immense pressure involved and I think we have to be very careful not to make this an us and them situation about good clinicians and bad managers, because there are many excellent managers really doing their best under immense pressure and downward scrutiny and upward accountability. But I think what it does reflect is that there is an immense pressure within the National Health Service, because we're under such great scrutiny to deliver for the public or for the government or the taxpayer, that people really don't want to open cans of worms that they don't have to.

“It’s very similar to some of the tragic safeguarding problems in some churches recently in Christian organisations. There’s an inability to believe that the unthinkable could be happening. But of course, as Christians, we know that the unthinkable can happen. We know the corruption of human hearts, it shouldn't be surprising to us that there are some people like this and that that's, I think, the challenge in the health service and the immense pressure and scrutiny to say, where do we need to stop and think and listen to concerns.”

CMF has launched a new ministry for Christians in the medical profession. It’s called Christians in Healthcare Leadership Network (CHLN) to encourage and support Christians to be salt and light in healthcare management. Dr Pickering says listening and supporting each other is vital in such a pressurised environment :

“There’s a whole cohort of non-clinical managers who currently don't have any organisation to represent and support them. So we really see this as an overlap area where any Christian who's working in health care leadership can be part of CHLN, so that we can foster a positive culture where it's not the doctors and the nurses against the managers, it's them working together, to build a positive culture and to make the health service a better place to live and work. That's so important.”


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