Vital messages for Designated Lead Persons in light of the Lucy Letby Trial
News coverage on the first week of the Lucy Letby Trial in Manchester Crown Court has made chilling reading. A highly trusted Nurse who worked in the specialist Neonatal Unit at Chester Hospital is on trial for having killed seven babies and attempted to murder ten others during the period from March 2015 - September 2016.
These babies were either born premature or very sick, and some had received highly technical surgery on their tiny bodies. Alongside these vulnerable babies were their parents, suspended in varying states of shock and in need of warm, caring and emotionally containing care.
News accounts refer to a malevolent force at work within this Specialist Neonatal Unit. Our attention is drawn to a most toxic relationship level, one where a specialist nurse's caring hands injected toxins into tiny babies' stomachs and dislodged vital feeding tubes and airways, causing active trauma.
I have been wondering about Ms Letby's life history, the path of her early years, the dynamics of her family, her schooling and the influences in her life, the psychology surrounding her decision to enter nursing as a profession and her path to attacking and killing babies.
This is what we do in safeguarding, isn't it? We inquire on this very deep level. It has really made me think about how essential 'time to think and reflect' is to Designated Lead Persons. Do you have that as a priority in your working day? Does your Governing Body really understand your role in a meaningful way? Do you have the time, the training the resources (As it says in Appendix C of Keeping Children Safe in Education 2022.) **
We must be 'Alive, Alert and Active ' as Designated Lead Persons for Safeguarding. We at Catherine Rushforth and Associates are known for our deep thinking, practical approach to safeguarding and commitment to building professional confidence.
Do you need to 'refresh' your commitment, empower and support some new Designated Lead Persons or Deputies? Perhaps really help inform your Governors or Trustees?
** The designated safeguarding lead should have the appropriate status and authority within the school or college to carry out the duties of the post. The role of the designated safeguarding lead carries a significant level of responsibility, and they should be given the additional time, funding, training resources and support they need to carry out the role effectively. Annex C, p162