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Trust chief executive resigns amidst infanticide investigation

The chief executive of the Countess of Chester Hospital FT (COCH) has resigned amid an ongoing police investigation into eight baby deaths in its neonatal unit.

Tony Chambers has decided to step down from his role at the acute hospital after six years, saying that it has been “a huge privilege” but that “recent times have been particularly challenging for the hospital.”

A nurse was arrested at the Countess of Chester Hospital in July on suspicion of murdering eight babies and attempting to murder a further six.

The female medical professional at the neonatal unit was arrested after Cheshire Police began investigating the deaths of 15-new-borns in May last year, as well as 15 non-fatal collapses.

The outgoing chief executive Chambers said: “Recent times have been particularly challenging for the hospital not least of which is the ongoing police investigation into an increase in mortality rates in our neonatal unit.

“My thoughts will continue to be with the bereaved families as they await the outcome of the police investigation.

“I have now decided to step aside to allow the trust to focus on its future and for me to explore new opportunities and the next stage of my career.”

The Countess of Chester chairman, Sir Duncan Nichol, said: “We thank him for his hard work and wish him all the best in the rest of his career.”

He also announced that he had asked Susan Gilby, the medical director and deputy chief executive officer of COCH to be acting chief executive officer of the trust with immediate effect.

The police investigation is looking at the new-born deaths at the unit between March 2015 to July 2016.

Detective inspector Paul Hughes, in charge of the investigation, previously said: “This is a highly complex and very sensitive investigation and 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.”=

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Image credit -  Peter Byrne/PA Wire/PA Images


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