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Essex Mental Health Inquiry

What is the Essex Mental Health Inquiry?

Current records show that 2,000 people have died whilst in the care of Essex Mental Health Services. An additional 500 more than originally reported.

  • The government established an independent inquiry to cover a 21 year period from I January 2000 to 31 December 2020
  •  The inquiry is investigating deaths in the former North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, the former South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust and the Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Families affected by these unnecessary deaths refused to engage in what they considered to be an ineffective Inquiry and campaigned tirelessly for the review to be converted to a full Statutory Inquiry that can compel witnesses to give evidence, rather than rely on limited voluntary witnesses to come forward. The previous Chair of the Inquiry, Dr Geraldine Strathdee, warned the Government that she was unable to meet the Terms of Reference set for the same reasons and the inquiry was delayed.
  • On 28 June 2023, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay, announced that the Essex Mental Health Independent Inquiry will be granted statutory status under the Inquiries Act 2005.

Hodge Jones & Allen solicitors including Partners Nina Ali and Priya Singh have played a pivotal role in supporting the 119+ families with their legal efforts and campaigns over a period of more than 4 years. If you would like to speak to Hodge Jones & Allen’s expert team about a case that may be related to the inquiry, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 0330 822 3451.

Contact our Public Inquiry Team on

0330 822 3451

or request a call back.

    Background to The Lampard Inquiry

    The Essex Mental Health Independent Inquiry was relaunched as The Lampard Inquiry in October 2023.

    Further information can be found here: https://lampardinquiry.org.uk/

    Background

    In 2020, a petition led by Melanie Leahy whose 20-year-old son died whilst an inpatient at the Linden Centre, was signed by 100,000+ people. Many of these like Melanie were bereaved parents and families, whose loved ones had died whilst in hospital.

    The petition called for a full Statutory Public Inquiry into what were clearly catastrophic failings in the care and treatment being provided to vulnerable patients under Mental Health Services across Essex.

    This led to a debate in Parliament in November 2020, followed in January 2021 by the launch of an Independent (ie a non-Statutory Inquiry) to be chaired by Dr Geraldine Strathdee. This was not what the families were asking for.

    An Inquiry without full statutory powers does not provide the Chair with the power to compel witnesses to give evidence and, after just under 2 years, Dr Strathdee has herself come to conclusion that the current Inquiry is not fit for purpose see her open letter.

    “Despite the numerous Inquests, and investigations to date, nothing has changed, no lessons learnt and people continue to die. Surely now it is clear that nothing less than a full statutory inquiry will suffice.”
    Nina Ali, Partner

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    What are the powers of the current Independent Review?

    This review is a public inquiry established when major public concerns or public policy issues are recognised. Inquiries can often involve years of information gathering as they set out to establish what happened, who was responsible and accountable for actions taken and details lessons that can be learnt and hopefully bring about change.

    Statutory inquiries are usually held under the Inquiries Act 2005 and they have to be called by a government minister who appoints the Chair.

    The Chair is responsible for writing up a report which includes the inquiry’s findings and recommendations.

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    What are the differences between a statutory and non-statutory inquiry?

    • A Statutory Inquiry can compel witnesses to attend and for their evidence to be given under oath.
    • A Statutory Inquiry can compel organisations to submit all relevant documentary and other evidence.
    • A Statutory Inquiry will give the Chair an established framework for investigation that cannot be short circuited.
    • A Statutory Inquiry is heard in public and is therefore transparent and open to scrutiny.
    • A non-statutory lacks all of the above powers, relying on witnesses to come forward voluntarily and takes place behind closed doors.
    If you or your family have been affected and would like confidential legal advice please get in touch with our Public Inquiry Team on
    0330 822 3451

    or email Alastair Banks at abanks@hja.net

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    Campaign for a Statutory Public Inquiry

    Melanie Leahy’s son Matthew died in Linden Centre mental health unit over ten years ago and she, together with a cohort of similarly bereaved families, has been campaigning tirelessly ever since #matthewscampaign to get answers.

    Matthew Leahy and Melanie Leahy

    Visit Cure Mental Health website.

    Join our campaign #StatutoryPublicInquiry #essexMHdeaths

    “I want to know what happened to my son and find out why so many repeat failings and multiple deaths have been allowed to continue for so many years. They say time is a healer, but we are getting no healing in this living nightmare. We urge the government to do the right thing. Add the statutory powers. Find out what’s been going so terribly wrong here in Essex. Learn from these mistakes and send that learning across our nation.”
    Melanie Leahy

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    The Lampard Inquiry, formerly known as the Essex Mental Health Inquiry, – Latest News Update

    November 2023

    1 November 2023 Public consultation on Terms of Reference for Lampard Inquiry launched. The consultation will run for four weeks, closing on 28 November. See Lampard Inquiry Updates for full details.

    October 2023

    31 October: Growing number of families seek justice ahead of Essex Mental Health Statutory Inquiry

    September 2023

    6 September: Baroness Kate Lampard CBE appointed as Chair of Essex Mental Health Inquiry

    June 2023

    28 June 2023: SUCCESS FOR ESSEX FAMILIES – INQUIRY RECEIVES STATUTORY STATUS! The Government has confirmed today that they will convert the Essex Mental Health Inquiry into a statutory inquiry.

    Read more at EssexLive: Inquiry into 2,000 Essex mental health deaths given new powers by government

    12 June 2023: Hodge Jones & Allen gives notice to file judicial review application regarding the current Essex Mental Health Inquiry’s non statutory status

    An open letter was sent by Hodge Jones & Allen to Dr Geraldine Strathdee the chair of the current non statutory inquiry Updates – Essex Mental Health Independent Inquiry (emhii.org.uk)

    With ongoing silence and the absence of a positive announcement from Government, Hodge Jones & Allen is proceeding with an application for judicial review on behalf of the families.

    May 2023

    22 May 2023: Melanie Leahy sent an open letter to Steve Barclay MP.

    16 May 2023: Campaigners’ echo Chair’s renewed plea for statutory public inquiry into Essex mental health care

    Dr Geraldine Strathdee, Chair of the Essex Mental Health Inquiry provided an update, on 15 May 2023, and published her latest letter to Health Minister, Steve Barclay MP stating in the clearest terms that the current Essex Mental Health Inquiry needs to move to a statutory footing to meet its terms of reference.

    Campaigners and supporters continued to be frustrated by the ongoing delay and maintain their plea for the current proceedings to be given statutory status to ensure a robust process resulting in recommendations for improvement into mental health services to prevent further deaths and keep people safe.

    April 2023

    19 April 2023: Leading mental health charity SANE joins call for Statutory Public Inquiry.

    Before Easter, families spoke to iNews and the Guardian to share their personal stories and current frustration with Government as pressure continues for a full Statutory Public Essex Mental Health Inquiry

    The Guardian, 7 April 2023: ‘It’s pointless’: relatives lambast Essex mental health inquiry
    Haroon Siddique, Legal Affairs Correspondent spoke to families waiting for a Statutory Public Inquiry.

    The iNews, 3 April: NHS mental health services face full public inquiry to force staff to give evidence.

    Melanie Leahy, a Hodge Jones & Allen client has spent the last 13 years campaigning #Matthewscampaign for a statutory public inquiry and when speaking to the Independent newspaper she said that the Government “now have the opportunity to change mental health services given how many tragic failings there have been and continue to be”.

    If you or a family member has been affected by the care provision of Essex Partnership University Trust (EPUT) and wish to have a confidential conversation with Nina Ali or Priya Singh who are representing over 80 families, please call 0330 822 3451 or email Alastair Banks at abanks@hja.net

    March 2023

    The campaign has been publicly supported by a growing number of MPs, including:

    • Sir John Whittingdale, Conservative MP for Maldon
    • Priti Patel, Conservative MP for Witham
    • Vicky Ford, Conservative MP for Chelmsford
    • Barbara Keeley, Labour MP for Worsley and Eccles South
    • Sam Tarry MP, Labour MP for Ilford South
    • Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, Labour MP for Tooting

    8 March 2023: The latest to join calls for a statutory public inquiry into the deaths is leading autism researcher Professor Sir Simon Baron-Cohen, Director of the Autism Research centre at the University of Cambridge.

    To view all news articles: News & Insights

    "I cannot thank HJA for all their support and help throughout my case... It was a difficult and emotional time but they were there for me. All procedures were explained with patience and understanding at a sensitive time."

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    Hodge Jones & Allen calls for a Statutory Public Inquiry

    “The lack of evidence provided to the current inquiry by EPUT staff highlights the critical failings across mental health services, and it cannot be ignored – urgent protection is needed for some of the most vulnerable in our society.

    “We must hear these stories to bring peace to families who’ve spent years without answers. Our plea to the government is unchanged, an immediate upgrade to a statutory public inquiry is the only answer otherwise we are banging on closed doors.

    “Current records are showing that more than 2,000 people have died whilst in the care of Essex Trust. An additional 500 more than previously reported. Our families want to get on and support a statutory public inquiry to allow for lessons to be learnt and for others to benefit across the country from those lessons.”
    Priya Singh

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