A MUM whose son was found hanging in a mental unit has slammed the Government’s response to an inquiry as a “slap in the face” for families.
The Government last week admitted lessons must be learned after “appalling and unacceptable” deaths of mental health patients in care in Essex.
An official inquiry was launched into two deaths at the North Essex Partnership NHS Trust.
They include the death of Matthew Leahy, from Maldon, who was found hanging in his room at Chelmsford’s Linden Centre in 2012, aged 20.
Mum Melanie has been campaigning for justice ever since, along with other families who lost loved ones.
She was furious at the Government’s response to the inquiry, branding it a “whitewash”.
Mrs Leahy said: “The Government’s response to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee amounts to a slap in the face for all families failed by NHS mental health care in Essex.
“While the Government accepts that the cases catalogued by the committee are ‘unacceptable’, they fail to set out real solutions.
“More money invested in mental health services is of course welcome, but looking at services on the ground, it isn’t going to the correct places.
“Specialist staff are not being recruited, and money is not being spent on suicide prevention. All the money in the world won’t make something better without the will to learn from past mistakes.
She added: “The initial report was clear. Mental health services in Essex are not good enough – so now is not the time to whitewash failings while families continue to suffer.
“The status quo cannot go on, more families cannot lose loved ones. Future improvements demand learnings from the past. The Government must make good on their promises to improve mental health care and set up a full statutory public inquiry into the failings we have seen, and continue to see, in Essex.
“This will compel witnesses to give evidence to the inquiry as well as looking into deaths in the community, an area which for far too long has been ignored.”
Hodge Jones and Allen solicitors represent about 70 families who say they were failed while in NHS Mental Health Care in Essex.
Partner Nina Ali also called for a full statutory public inquiry into the “horrific failings” in care across Essex.
“Without witnesses compelled to give evidence under oath, the currently proposed non-statutory inquiry will achieve nothing, simply papering over the cracks without getting to root causes,” she said.
“For too long families concerns have been brushed under the carpet through bland responses to written documents – this cannot continue.”