• May 28, 2024

Essex mental health advocates seek inquiry decision in court 2023

Campaigners are suing the government to compel a mental health deaths investigation conclusion.

The inquiry chair requested witness compulsion powers from the health secretary in March.

Bereaved family have sought judicial scrutiny of the protracted response time.

The Health and Social Care Department was examining the inquiry’s next actions.

In 2021, the Essex Mental Health Inquiry investigated the deaths of persons in the county’s mental health services during two decades.

Chair Dr. Geraldine Strathdee is frustrated by the absence of witnesses, especially NHS trust officials.

She wrote a second letter to Health Secretary Steve Barclay requesting statutory powers for her probe and expressing new safety concerns.

Over 21 years, Essex Partnership University Trust (EPUT) and its predecessors had around 2,000 fatalities in their care, according to the probe.

Paul Scott, the trust’s CEO, disputes this amount.

Hurt and upset

Lawyers for some of the deceased’s families called Dr Strathdee’s silence “intolerable” in a letter seen by the BBC.

They sought court review because they were “not prepared to wait any longer”.

Melanie Leahy, whose son Matthew died while inpatient at the Linden Centre in Chelmsford in 2012, said she and other families were “hurt and frustrated by the government’s lack of action and Mr Barclay’s silence”.

“Patients are still dying and we’ve been waiting months now for a conversion of the current toothless inquiry,” she added.

“We just cannot understand why it is taking so long to announce the next step in getting the desperately needed statutory public inquiry into Essex mental health services urgently underway.”

“Every mental health facility death is a tragedy,” stated a Department of Health and Social Care official. We started the study into Essex inpatient mental health mortality between 2000 and 2020 to improve mental health care nationwide.

We thank everyone who engaged in the investigation to improve patient safety. It’s frustrating that some current and former personnel haven’t engaged as planned and the investigation hasn’t been able to obtain all the necessary material.

“We’re carefully considering the inquiry’s next steps and will update in due course.”

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