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Campaigners march on Westminster in continued call for Statutory Public Inquiry into mental health care in Essex

Families of those who have died or been seriously impacted by mental health care failings in Essex will march on Westminster tomorrow, Tuesday 28th June 2022 at 11:45 a.m. The campaigners continue to stand firm on their call on the UK Government to upgrade the current inquiry into a statutory public inquiry. Campaigners will be joined by the Citizens Commission for Human Rights.

As it stands, the government-backed inquiry does not have the power to compel witnesses to testify, nor will testimonies be given under oath – families believe that for the full truth of the mental health scandal to be uncovered, the inquiry must have such powers. The inquiry is also limited in scope, focusing on cases between 2000 and 2020, excluding historic cases, as well as failings through the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite a compelling, passionate, and long-running campaign, the government has consistently denied the families a statutory public inquiry, despite a petition signed by more than 100k people leading to a Westminster Hall debate.

Melanie Leahy, mother of Matthew Leahy, who was found hanging at the Linden Centre, Chelmsford, in 2012, will lead the various campaign groups in attendance.

Melanie said: “Tuesday’s protest is just the latest step in a long campaign seeking to secure a statutory public inquiry into the countless failings of mental health services in Essex. For too long, the families of the victims have been ignored, with our concerns brushed under the carpet with a toothless inquiry. By marching on Westminster, we will once again show the government that we will not be ignored, and to improve mental health services, lessons must be learned from past mistakes.”

Priya Singh, a medical negligence solicitor at Hodge Jones & Allen, representing around 70 families impacted by poor mental healthcare in the Essex, said: “Melanie and other campaigners have spent years trying to get the government to hear their concerns and initiate a statutory public inquiry, but at every turn, despite a groundswell of support – they are ignored. The increased focus on mental health in recent years is welcome. However, to truly improve patient care, institutions must be prepared to learn lessons from past mistakes and Melanie and other families we represent strongly believe that past mistakes across Essex can only be uncovered by a full Statutory Inquiry.”