A healthcare professional has been re-arrested on suspicion of murder and attempted murder as part of an investigation into deaths of babies at a neonatal unit.
The woman, arrested on Tuesday, is understood to be nurse Lucy Letby, who was previously arrested in 2018 and 2019.
A Cheshire Police spokesman said the woman was in custody after being re-arrested on suspicion of the murder of eight babies and the attempted murder of nine babies.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Hughes, of Cheshire Police, 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.”
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.
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.”
Emma Doughty, clinical negligence specialist at law firm Slater and Gordon, which is representing a number of the families, said: “Our clients have been awaiting over three years to get some answers.
“While we respect the police investigation and their diligence we would very much like our clients to get justice in this case.
“Not only have the lost their babies but they have then had to deal with numerous investigations, and then subsequent arrests, all the while not knowing what really happened to their babies.
“This is a truly heart-breaking situation they find themselves in.
“We are supporting our clients through this difficult and challenging time and welcome any update to the police investigation.”
Anyone with information should contact the investigation team at at firstname.lastname@example.org or call police on 101 or anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.