The mother of a 20-year-old man who died at an Essex mental health ward says she has been ‘overwhelmed’ by the support of the public – as a petition asking for a public inquiry into his death topped 100,000 signatures.
Matthew Leahy died in November 2012 at the Linden Centre in Broomfield while he was under the care of the former North Essex Partnership Trust.
Since his death, his mother Melanie has been tirelessly campaigning for a full public inquiry looking into the circumstances surrounding his death.
But her petition, which needed 100,000 signatures to be considered by parliament for debate, hit a stumbling block at the announcement of the upcoming General Election on December 12.
Due to the election, the closing date for the petition was moved from late November to Tuesday, giving Mrs Leahy just days to collect thousands of new signatures.
She took her campaign to the capital, handing out leaflets outside 10 Downing Street and speaking in nearby venues, to secure those crucial names.
The petition was a success – ending up on 105,459 signatures at the time it closed.
Mrs Leahy said she was overwhelmed by the support of the public and thanked everyone who signed the petition.
“The closing date for the petition should have been November 23,” she said.
“News of the election was a very big shock because we had everything lined up for the final push and it had to be moved forward at the last minute. ”I have been up to London, giving out leaflets and speaking through a microphone in pubs.
“The support I have received from the public has been incredible and overwhelming. ”It has been absolutely immense.
“I was refreshing the page every ten seconds and was getting thousands of messages on my phone. The number of signatures went up by around 33,000 in the last two days.”
A further report, published on Monday by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, calls on the government to act on the previous recommendations made by the PHSO. The report says there is a need for “significant improvements in the safety and quality of mental health provision” and that the minister and the NHS should “make this an urgent priority”.