The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has reiterated calls for the regulation of non-clinical managers as the government sets out the scope of its inquiry into the Lucy Letby case.

While the PDA welcomed the government’s upcoming inquiry into the murders and attempted murders committed by former neonatal nurse Letby, director Paul Day said that it ‘should not be considered a reason to further delay outstanding recommendations from previous inquiries’.

This comes as the Health and Social Care Select Committee (HSCC) announced that its expert panel will evaluate what progress the government has made against existing patient safety recommendations.

The government announced this month that its inquiry into the Letby case would consider:

  • ‘The conduct of clinical and non-clinical staff and management, as well as governance and escalation processes in relation to concerns being raised about Letby and whether these structures contributed to the failure to protect babies from her’
  • ‘The effectiveness of governance, external scrutiny and professional regulation in keeping babies in hospital safe, including consideration of NHS culture’
  • ‘The experiences of the parents of the babies named in the indictment’

Mr Day told The Pharmacist that the PDA welcomed the government’s inquiry and said: ‘It is right that evidence is reviewed and that exactly what happened in this case is known and lessons learned to prevent anything like it happening again.’

But he emphasised that the upcoming inquiry ‘should not be considered a reason to further delay outstanding recommendations from previous inquiries’.

He added that recommendations from previous inquiries relating to patient safety, such as the regulation of managers, were still yet to be implemented.

‘It should not take a further public inquiry and/or more patient deaths to recognise that the regulation of those in management posts is essential to ensure that they do not disregard concerns that are raised about the actions of individuals, patient safety, and the risk of harm,’ Mr Day said.

And he added that PDA regional committees had discussed the importance of whistleblowing at recent meetings.

‘It appears several people tried to raise concerns about Letby, but she was able to continue her acts,’ said Mr Day, who added that the PDA supports ‘many members’ around the issue of whistleblowing.

‘Pharmacists who raise legitimate concerns to their employer or other appropriate body can be protected by whistleblowing legislation,’ he told The Pharmacist.

‘The whistleblowing provisions protect any “worker” who makes a “protected disclosure” of information, from being dismissed or penalised by their employer because of the disclosure,’ he said.

And he added that PDA members can ask the PDA for advice on how to correctly whistleblow when they have concerns.

Meanwhile, the HSCC has announced that its expert panel will evaluate the government’s progress on recommendations it has accepted around patient safety, including whistleblowing.

Steve Brine, MP for Winchester and chair of the HSCC, said: ‘We’ve now had a large number of public inquiries, around failures in patient safety, and we owe it to them all before we embark on another one to see if what’s been recommended before has actually happened.’

The HSCC expert panel is chaired by Professor Dame Jane Dacre and includes core members Sir Robert Francis KC, Professor Anita Charlesworth, Professor Stephen Peckham, Professor Emma Cave and Sir David Pearson, as well as a range of subject specialists.

It recently found that the government’s progress on pharmacy commitments ‘require improvement’, although the government has rejected some of the committee’s claims.