Healthcare Worker Arrested Over Chester Neonatal Unit Baby Deaths

Nicky Broyd

July 03, 2018

A female healthcare worker has been arrested on suspicion of murder as part of a long-term investigation into the deaths of babies at the Countess of Chester Hospital in Cheshire.

The police investigation began in May 2017 after an independent clinical review failed to answer all the questions regarding the cause of death of a number of babies. Cheshire police said detectives are now investigating the deaths of 17 babies and 15 non-fatal collapses between March 2015 and July 2016.

Complex and Sensitive Investigation

Detective Inspector Paul Hughes is leading the investigation called Operation Hummingbird. In a statement he said: "This is a highly complex and very sensitive investigation and, as you can appreciate, we need to ensure we do everything we possibly can to try to establish in detail what has led to these baby deaths and collapses.

"Due to the nature of the case and, as part of our ongoing enquiries, we have consulted with a number of medical specialists to ensure that we carry out as thorough an investigation as possible. We have also spoken to a large number of people to gather as much information as we can. 

"As a result of our ongoing enquiries we have today arrested a healthcare professional in connection with the investigation. She was arrested earlier this morning on suspicion of murder in relation to eight of the babies and attempted murder in relation to six of the babies and is currently in custody."

He called the arrest a significant step forward in their enquiries but stressed the investigation remains "active and ongoing".

Getting Answers for the Families

Hughes continued: "We recognise that this investigation has a huge impact on all of the families, staff, and patients at the hospital as well as members of the public. Parents of all the babies are continuing to be kept fully updated and are being 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."

Countess of Chester Hospital Medical Director Ian Harvey said the hospital is continuing to support the police investigation: "Asking the police to look into this was not something we did lightly, but we need to do everything we can to understand what has happened here and get the answers we and the families so desperately want."

Addressing safety concerns he said: "The Countess is now equivalent to a Level 1 Special Care Baby Unit and we are confident the unit is safe to continue in its current form."

Police are still appealing for information relating to the case which can be sent via email to or anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 11 or by calling 101.


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