A colleague of Lucy Letby has told the court how she was surprised that a “stable” newborn had died two hours later.
Caroline Oakley said Baby D was doing so well on the neonatal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital that she was about to be given her first feed of expressed milk from her mother.
The baby girl is said to be the third child murdered by nurse Letby in a two-week period, with another youngster suffering a life-threatening collapse during the same time.
But at 1.30am on September 22, 2015 she was called back by Letby – who has been accused of killing seven babies – and another nurse on duty.
She said: “I remember being very happy with her.” But at 1.30am she was called to the nursery, the court was told.
Giving evidence from behind a screen, Mrs Oakley said: I remember being on my break, I had only been gone half an hour. “I remember going into the nursery and saying ‘what’s happening?”
She found that the previously ‘stable’ infant had suddenly lost colour and had saliva coming from her mouth. There were also discolorations to her trunk, legs, arms and chin.
“It was unusual, and the rash struck me,” Mrs Oakley told jurors. “I hadn’t seen that rash before on any neonatal baby I’ve looked after over 20 years.”
She went on: “I struggled to describe it. I remember it as a deep red/brown but different to mottling.
“Sometimes when a baby is poorly they lose their colour and they have a mottled appearance all over, where this was just a rash specifically in those places. That is what stayed with me.”
Baby D responded to treatment very quickly and her notes indicated she was back ‘to normal parameters’ within half an hour.
“Because she was stable again, and the doctors were busy, we decided to let the parents rest and we would have informed them in the morning”, Mrs Oakley told the court.
The court heard Child D’s monitor alarm sounded at 3.45am and the newborn stopped breathing.
Resuscitation commenced but Child D was pronounced dead at 4.25am.
Letby, 32, originally from Hereford, denies murdering seven babies and attempting to murder a further ten.
Her trial is expected to last up to six months.