AN investigation is under way into corporate manslaughter at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

Cheshire Police have confirmed the news, which follows the trial and conviction of former CoCH neonatal nurse nurse Lucy Letby, who was sentenced to a whole-life order for the murder of seven babies and the attempted murder of six more.

In the aftermath of her conviction, the Government announced it was to set up a statutory inquiry into the case.

Now police have said they will look at senior leadership at the hospital during June 2015-June 2016.

Detective Superintendent Simon Blackwell, strategic lead for Operation Hummingbird – the operation investigating fatal and non-fatal collapses at the Countess of Chester Hospital – said: “Following the lengthy trial, subsequent conviction of Lucy Letby and an assessment by senior investigative officers, I can confirm that Cheshire Constabulary is carrying out an investigation into corporate manslaughter at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

“The investigation will focus on the indictment period of the charges for Lucy Letby, from June 2015 to June 2016, and consider areas including senior leadership and decision making to determine whether any criminality has taken place. At this stage we are not investigating any individuals in relation to gross negligence manslaughter.

“The investigation is in the very early stages and we are unable to go into any further details or answer specific questions at this time.

"We recognise that this investigation will have a significant impact on a number of different stakeholders including the families in this case and we are continuing to work alongside and support them during this process.

“You will be notified of any further updates in due course.”

Jane Tomkinson OBE, acting Chief Executive Officer at the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We were deeply saddened and appalled at Lucy Letby’s crimes when the verdicts were delivered.

"Following the trial we have always maintained we will be supporting the ongoing investigation by Cheshire Police and will be co-operating fully with the investigation announced today so that we can help get the answers that the families and babies affected by this case rightly deserve.

"Cheshire Police have given us their assurance that they are providing ongoing support to the families, who remain at the forefront of our thoughts and efforts to support this investigation.

"It would not be appropriate for the Trust to make any further comment at this time.”

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) previously said it wanted to pursue a retrial on one of Letby’s outstanding charges – that she attempted to murder a baby girl, known as Child K, in February 2016.

A provisional trial date of June 10, 2024 at Manchester Crown Court has been fixed.

The jury of seven women and four men in Letby’s 10-month trial could not reach verdicts on claims she attempted to murder three baby girls, Child H, Child J and Child K.

Verdicts were also not reached on two counts of attempted murder against Child N, a baby boy, and an allegation she tried to murder another male infant, Child Q.

Letby was found guilty of one count of attempted murder against Child N.

The defendant, from Hereford, denied all the offences and formally lodged an appeal against her convictions at the Court of Appeal last month.

A court order prohibits reporting of the identities of the surviving and dead children who were the subject of the allegations.

Parents of twins that Letby was found guilty of harming said the investigation would mean that “hopefully there will be no hiding place for the senior management of that trust”.

In a statement, they said: “We welcome the news this morning of corporate manslaughter charges against Countess Of Chester Hospital.

“Hopefully now there will be no hiding place for the senior management of that trust.

“People who aided Letby to carry on her deeds need to be brought to justice.

“I’m sure the police will do this during their investigation and I’m grateful to them for all the dedicated support they have given us.”

Tamlin Bolton, of law firm Switalskis, which represents seven families, said: “This is significant news today. The families we represent have continued to request that senior management at the Countess of Chester Hospital be investigated and/or be part of investigations moving forward.

“We are reassured that some steps are now being taken to consider the actions of management from a criminal perspective.

“It will be for the CPS and the police to determine now if the conduct of the senior management at the Countess of Chester Hospital fell so far below what could reasonably have been expected of them, that their actions caused or contributed to the deaths of those seven children.

“While the news is welcomed, this announcement brings with it fresh anguish for the families as they wait for the conclusion of these further criminal investigations.”

Linda Millband, an expert in clinical negligence claims at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “Gross Negligence Manslaughter is a charge against corporations and the offence involves the way an organisation’s activities were managed which led to a person’s death.

“There must be a gross breach and it is the way in which its activities were managed by senior management which is vital to being able to prove the case against the hospital trust.

“This is the first time following the trial and conviction of Letby that the police have focused on the accountability of those in charge of the NHS Trust in which the attacks occurred.

"Although this investigation was anticipated, it is a dramatic and significant development toward accountability in the aftermath of Letby’s legal proceedings and conviction.”