Police investigate the deaths of up to 20 patients going back 17 years at an under-fire mental health facility

  • Deaths of patients at Linden Centre in Chelmsford have come under scrutiny
  • Families have complained about treatment of patients at the Essex site
  • Care Quality Commission found improvements required two years ago 

The deaths of up to 20 patients at an under-fire mental health facility are being investigated by police.

Officers are probing hangings dating back 17 years at the Linden Centre in Chelmsford, Essex.

Families have complained about the treatment of vulnerable loved ones there for years.

Two years ago a Care Quality Commission report found improvement was required and warned there were too many places where patients could hang themselves.

The investigation was launched by Essex Police following fresh ‘allegations’ about the death of Matthew Leahy, who was found dead there in 2012 after a hanging. It was not clear yesterday what new evidence had come to light.

The 20-year-old, who suffered mental health was not allowed visitors for the first seven days to ‘let him settle on the ward’.

A week after admission a doctor contacted his mother, Melanie, to say he had been found dead in his room.

An inquest later ruled there had been a series of failings and missed opportunities. A care plan had not been prepared, a key worker had not been assigned and observation sheets were missing.

The coroner suggested North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust should hold a public inquiry into his death but it argued money would be diverted from front-line services.

Miss Leahy said Essex Police had told her they were ‘still investigating my son’s death but are also looking at… up to 20 patients, all who died by the same means’.

She added: ‘I have worked tirelessly to collect evidence going back to 2001 which proves the trust knew about the ligature points [areas in a room that can be used as part of a suicide bid] on the ward.

‘That, as proved by the Care Quality Commission inspection in 2015, the wards were not up to the standard required to ensure patient safety.


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