Mum whose son died in care urges other families to join call for inquiry into Essex mental health deaths

A mum who is calling for a public inquiry into mental health services in Essex after her son died has said she expects “hundreds” of other families could come forward.

Melanie Leahy’s 20-year-old son Matthew was found dead at an Essex hospital in 2012.

For almost eight years, she has been fighting for the “truth” about what happened to him.

Eleven families who also lost loved ones while under the care of the former North Essex Partnership NHS Trust (NEP) have so far joined the call for a public inquiry.

Now, after being contacted by more families, Ms Leahy is calling on any family who lost a loved one in any Essex mental health service to come forward.

Melanie said: “We expect there could be hundreds of families that could come forward. So many have been failed in Essex so we are expanding to find the common links between the cases.

“Multiple failings have gone on for years and things need to be improved. Unless there is accountability there is not going to be change.”

Matthew was found unresponsive in his room at the Linden Centre eight days after he was admitted. His inquest in 2015 heard that there were a “series of multiple failings and missed opportunities”.

The Health & Safety Executive is currently investigating how NEP managed their mental health ward environments between 2004 and 2015 “in relation to ligature points”.

Ms Leahy has gathered more than 100,000 signatures to get her son’s death raised in parliament, and this is currently being considered.

Last year, a parliamentary and health service ombudsman report called for a national review into “significant failings” at NEP and uncovered “systemic failure to tackle repeated and critical failings over an unacceptable period of time”.

It was merged with another mental health trust in 2017 to form the Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT).

In a statement, it said the trust “extends its deepest condolences to those impacted by the death of people in the care of the former North Essex Partnership Trust”.

“From the first day we established EPUT in April 2017, our top priority has been to continuously improve patient safety,” the statement said.

“We have an ongoing programme of improvements so that we can provide the best possible care for our patients.

“We are co-operating fully with ongoing investigations into the care of patients under the former North Essex Partnership Trust.”

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