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UK baby unit where nurse accused of murders ‘under pressure’

LONDON (AFP) – The neonatal unit where a United Kingom (UK) nurse accused of killing seven babies worked had been struggling to cope with the numbers of children it was treating, her lawyer said in court on Friday.

Lucy Letby, 33, is also accused of attempting to kill another 10 babies in the neo-natal unit of the Countess of Chester Hospital in Chester, northwest England. She has denied harming children.

“Between June 2015 and June 2016, the neonatal unit took more babies than it would usually care for and with greater care needs,” defence lawyer Ben Myers told the jury at  Manchester Crown Court.

“You have heard that repeatedly. In that same year there was an increase in the number of deaths and type of collapses you are looking at in this trial,” he said. “What did not change was Miss Letby. She was dedicated. She cared for hundreds of babies. She did not suddenly change.

“What changed was the babies cared for on the unit in terms of their numbers and needs and, we say, the inability of this unit to cope.” Myers, in his summing up, argued that there was no “direct evidence” against her for any of the charges she faced.

Jurors have been hearing the case since October and are set to begin deliberations shortly over the 22 charges she faces.

Letby is accused of having targeted newborns by various means between June 2015 and June 2016, including giving them injections of insulin, air or milk.

She was removed from the neo-natal unit in July 2016 but continued working at the hospital on clerical duties before her arrest two years later.