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28 Jun 2023

SANE comments on inquiry into deaths of inpatients in Essex being made statutory

The Essex Mental Health Independent Inquiry was announced in 2021 to investigate matters surrounding the deaths of mental health inpatients across NHS trusts in Essex between 2000 and 2020.

Dr Geraldine Strathdee was appointed chair of the non-statutory inquiry and, following her advice, the government has confirmed that it will be converted to a statutory inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005. It had stalled due to a lack of co-operation from current and former NHS staff, who will now be compelled to come forward and give evidence.

Marjorie Wallace, SANE chief executive, said: “We support the decision by the secretary of state that there should be a statutory inquiry which will compel witnesses to give evidence, giving families answers they need and the truth about how their relatives lost their lives.

“We’ve been following the findings and supporting families for some years and are delighted for them and especially Melanie Leahy who has campaigned against the odds following the death of her son Matthew, 20, at the Linden Centre in 2012.   

“The alleged failings that Dr Strathdee and her team are investigating – and the shocking stories we already know of – are not unique to Essex, they have been seen in other parts of the country. This inquiry is the country’s largest investigation into mental health services and the findings will not be unique to Essex.

“It should act as a catalyst in improving mental healthcare and propel a revolution in culture which will not cost a huge amount but take common sense and compassionate steps such as listening to parents and families in order to prevent unnecessary suffering and loss of life.”

Official Press Release: Government acts to improve patient safety in mental health care”

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