A nurse has been charged with murdering eight babies and attempting to murder a further 10.
Lucy Letby, 30, will appear in court tomorrow following a probe into a number of deaths at the Countess of Chester Hospital, Cheshire Police said.
Detectives launched an investigation into infant deaths at the hospital in May 2017, initially looking at the deaths of 15 babies between June 2015 and June 2016.
The probe later widened to the deaths of 17 babies and 16 non-fatal collapses between March 2015 and July 2016.
Letby was first arrested in 2018, and was taken back into custody yesterday following a three-year investigation.
In a statement police said: “The Crown Prosecution Service has authorised Cheshire Police to charge a healthcare professional with murder in connection with an ongoing investigation into a number of baby deaths at the Countess of Chester Hospital.
“Lucy Letby, of Arran Avenue, Hereford, is facing eight charges of murder and 10 charges of attempted murder. The charges relate to the period of June 2015 to June 2016.
“The 30-year-old was re-arrested on Tuesday, November 10, and has since subsequently been charged.
“She has been held in custody and is due to appear at Warrington Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, November 12.”
Speaking before she was charged, Detective Chief Inspector Paul Hughes, who is heading the investigation, said: “In July 2018, a healthcare professional was arrested on suspicion of murder in relation to the deaths of eight babies and the attempted murder of six babies at the neonatal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital.
“She was subsequently bailed pending further inquiries.
“In June 2019, the healthcare professional was re-arrested on suspicion of murder in relation to the deaths of eight babies and the attempted murder of six babies.
“She was also arrested in connection with the attempted murder of three additional babies.
“Today, as part of our ongoing inquiries, the healthcare professional has been re-arrested on suspicion of murder in relation to the deaths of eight babies and the attempted murder of nine babies.
“The woman is currently in custody helping officers with their inquiries.”
Following her previous arrests, Letby’s home in the Blacon area of Chester was searched by police.
In a 2013 interview with the Chester and District Standard newspaper, the nurse, originally from Hereford, said she cared for babies requiring various levels of support.
She had worked at the unit as a student nurse during three years of training before qualifying as a children’s nurse at the University of Chester in 2011.
Letby said she started working at the unit after graduating.
DCI Hughes added: “Parents of all the babies have been kept fully updated on this latest development and they are continuing to be supported throughout the process by specially trained officers.
“This is an extremely difficult time for all the families and it is important to remember that, at the heart of this, there are a number of bereaved families seeking answers as to what happened to their children.
“Due to the nature of this investigation it is extremely challenging but it is important to remember that, despite the passage of time, it is very much active and ongoing. There are no set timescales and we remain committed to carrying out a thorough investigation.
“We fully appreciate that it continues to have a big impact on all those involved – including the families of the babies, staff and patients at the hospital as well as members of the public.”