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Campaigner responds to damning CQC report into EPUT

Following the publication of a report from the Care Quality Commission that rated child and adolescent mental health services of Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) inadequate (available here) campaigners and their solicitors have responded to the findings.

Melanie Leahy, veteran mental health campaigner and Essex mother, said:  “Sadly the findings of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) report come as no surprise. I’ve campaigned relentlessly for almost a decade calling for a Statutory Public Inquiry into failings in Essex mental health services. The government have resisted offering the people of Essex the truth at every turn.

“Nadine Dorries (Minister of State for Mental Health, Suicide Prevention and Patient Safety) is fully aware of the failings within Essex MH services, yet she continues to fail our most vulnerable by refusing to grant the inquiry much needed statutory powers. Sexual abuse, neglect, malpractice,  physical abuse, psychological abuse to our most precious loved ones continues daily. Without witnesses being compelled to give evidence, and the inquiry given the scope to look at inpatient and community failings, lessons cannot be learnt.

“It is ironic that some of the CQC inspection was carried out just before Essex University partnership trust receiving a fine of £1.5 million due to safety failings that resulted in the deaths of 11 patients, my only son, Matthew, included. Unfortunately, mental health failings are shrouded in secrecy and this culture will never change if there is no truth or accountability… hence my continued call for the first public enquiry into mental health services in history. We must force change here in Essex and send the learning across our nation. We owe the truth to the victims of failure.”

Despite multiple investigations by numerous bodies, Melanie, mother of Matthew Leahy, who was found hanging at the Linden Centre, Chelmsford, in 2012 still does not know what led to her son’s death.

Nina Ali, Partner at Hodge Jones & Allen, who represents around 70 families failed by mental health provision in Essex, said: “Today’s report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) confirms the experience of patients and their families – mental care provided Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) is disgracefully inadequate. EPUT’s mental health provision is poorly led, patients are not cared for, and importantly, they are not safe.

“While the CQC’s order that the trust cannot admit new patients without authorisation is welcome from an immediate safeguarding point of view, systemic issues are left unaddressed. We urge the trust to do the right thing and follow the CQC’s action plan to improve services, but further investigation into EPUT is essential. This unannounced inspection has just touched the surfaces of EPUT’s failure. What is urgently required is a Full Statutory Public Inquiry into mental health care services in Essex, and it must cover both inpatients as well as community care. If a CQC report can find such horrendous failings, imagine what a Full Statutory Public inquiry will uncover. Families have been failed for too long, both in their care and subsequent investigations.”