Essex mental health trust prosecuted after 10 deaths

Mental health unit, The Linden Centre in Chelmsford Credit: ITV News

Legal action against a former Essex NHS mental health trust have begun after the country’s health and safety regulator accused it of potential safety breaches in its inpatient wards. 

It follows a spate of deaths of patients under the care of the former North Essex Partnership Trust between 25th October 2004 and 31st March 2015.

The North Essex Trust merged with the South Essex Partnership Trust in 2017 to form the Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust. The Health & Safety’s prosecution is against the new trust, but relates to its investigation into the North Essex Trust.

Matthew Leahy was 20 years old when he was found dead in his room at the Linden Centre in 2012.Credit: The Leahy family

It follows a campaign by relatives including Melanie Leahy, whose son Matthew died while in the care of the North Essex Partnership trust at the Linden Centre in Chelmsford in 2012. She wrote to the Health and Safety Executive and says she was finally heard in 2016.

The deaths of ten were part of the investigation, but the Health and Safety Executive does not investigate deaths or care, it investigates the facilities on mental health wards and the management of those facilities. 

Melanie Leahy leads a demonstration August 2020Credit: ITV News

Melanie says the HSE investigation doesn’t go far enough and she wants a full public inquiry. 

Too little too late. For two and half years, nearly three I wrote to the HSE to have them listen to me, I was passed from pillar to post I was ignored. That’s why I am pushing for a public inquiry, it’s the only way we will get to the truth and I’m not alone, there’s 24 families fighting now. What will satisfy me is when we see proper truth, justice and accountability and change that’s required.Melanie Leahy

The Health and Safety Executive has been investigating how the trust managed potential ligature points in inpatient wards over the ten year period between 2004 and 2015. 

Essex Partnership Trust, has invested £2.4 million into improving safety since it took over mental health care in the county in 2017.

Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the families whose loved ones were part of this investigation. Safety is our absolute priority and we are continually working to ensure the safest environment possible for our patients.Sally Morris, Chief Executive of Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust

The first hearing is due to take place on 12th November 2020 at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court. 

If the trust is found guilty of breaches then it could face a large fine.

Families call for inquiry into mental health deaths

Demonstrators demand a public inquiry


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