Staff at the hospital where neonatal nurse Lucy Letby murdered seven babies pocketed more than £1.5 million in performance bonuses.

Countess of Chester Hospital has also been accused of a ‘cover-up’ after it lost records of ‘excellence’ awards while Letby, 34, was there.

Since 2018, its staff have received 459 Clinical Excellence Awards, the NHS equivalent of a performance bonus.

Trusts apply to a nationally-run scheme for the awards, which are given for ‘safe and high-quality care’. Critics have called them a ‘gravy train’ for doctors because they effectively become permanent additions to their salaries.

The awards come up for renewal every five years and only a small number are not renewed.

Last August, Lucy Letby was sentenced to 14 life orders after being convicted of the murders of seven babies and the attempted murders of six more

Last August, Lucy Letby was sentenced to 14 life orders after being convicted of the murders of seven babies and the attempted murders of six more

More than half of the total amount of award money – £792,001 – was given in 2022-23, while the Letby trial was going on. 

The Chester hospital’s management was heavily criticised over its handling of the Letby case.

Last August she was sentenced to 14 life orders after being convicted of the murders of seven babies and the attempted murders of six more.

The horror took place at the hospital’s neonatal unit between June 2015 and June 2016.

The hospital claims it has lost those records for Clinical Excellence Awards handed out during that period. In internal emails seen by The Mail on Sunday, staff said they ‘assume they are no longer held’.

Countess of Chester Hospital has also been accused of a 'cover-up' after it lost records of 'excellence' awards while Letby, 34, was there

Countess of Chester Hospital has also been accused of a ‘cover-up’ after it lost records of ‘excellence’ awards while Letby, 34, was there

According to information disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, since 2018 the value of Clinical Excellence Awards to hospital staff was £1.56 million.

Elliot Keck, head of campaigns at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, which carried out the research, said: ‘Taxpayers will have serious questions about the culture within the Health Service, given the money being handed out to one of Britain’s most notorious trusts.

‘And with the missing information perfectly aligning to one of the darkest periods in the trust’s history, there will also be concerns about a cover-up. The NHS needs to learn that it has to be transparent and open with the taxpayers who fund it and with patients who rely on it.’

Hospital sources said awards were handed out in the year of Letby’s killing spree.

But they said the awards and the records of them going missing are not connected to the baby killer.

A spokesman for Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘Clinical Excellence Awards are awarded across the NHS based on national guidelines which the trust applies to ensure transparency and integrity in the award process.’

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