Families and doctors have been stepping up demands for a statutory inquiry, with full legal power to compel witnesses to come forward, after the 33-year-old nurse was sentenced to a whole-life term on Monday for the murder of seven babies and the attempted murders of six more.
The Government had promised a non-statutory inquiry, and the Prime Minister did not confirm that it would now be upgraded.
But he told reporters: “Whatever form the inquiry takes, I believe it is important that it is judge-led so that it has a strong independent voice to get to the bottom of what happened.
“Obviously this was one of the most despicable, horrific crimes in our history. And it’s really important that we get answers particularly for the families of the victims. And of course my thoughts are with them,” Mr Sunak added.
“The Health Secretary [Steve Barclay] is taking that work forward, speaking [to] them to make sure we understand what they need and want, and how best we can address that.”
Mr Barclay said this week that the families should have “full confidence” in the future inquiry, and that it would “fully investigate” how NHS whistleblowers were treated.
Senior doctors at the Countess of Chester Hospital neonatal unit, where Letby carried out her killing spree in 2015 and 2016, raised concerns for months before she was finally taken off frontline duties.
Failures to deal with the doctors’ complaints “more likely than not” led to the deaths of babies, according to Dr Susan Gilby, who took over as the hospital’s medical director a month after Letby was arrested in 2018.
But a campaign group calling itself Science on Trial has launched a fundraising drive to fund any appeal that the nurse lodges, calling her trial the “greatest miscarriage of justice that the UK has ever witnessed”.