Delayed inquest into the death of teenager Chris Nota adds pressure for a Statutory Public Inquiry into widespread NHS mental health failings
- Melanie Leahy
Ongoing failings across the UK’s mental health wards are once again addressed in court, while bereaved families are still fighting after ten years to obtain truth and justice
The Inquest into the death of 19-year-old Chris Nota at Chelmsford Coroner’s Court was expected to conclude in September 2022. However, it was adjourned to January 2023 as a result of a failure by Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) to provide thousands of pages of potentially key correspondence between clinicians to independent investigators.
Meanwhile, a government-backed Inquiry into the state of Essex mental healthcare is ongoing, but this Inquiry is limited in scope and does not go far enough for many of the families affected. And for that reason, many families are not engaging with the review.
The law firm Hodge Jones & Allen is supporting 93 families in their campaign for the current Inquiry to be converted to a Statutory Inquiry, meaning witnesses would be compelled to testify under oath, compelled to disclose documentation and other evidence. It would provide a truthful and transparent account of what has been happening and prevent the recurrence of those failings.
Hodge Jones & Allen solicitor Priya Singh says: “It is truly shocking that year after year there is repeated, damning evidence that the mental health care services across Essex are not fit for purpose. Yet still, tens of bereaved families and failed individuals are not afforded the right to obtain answers and hold those responsible accountable.
“Witnesses must be compelled to give evidence at an Inquiry, not to apportion blame but to understand how and why patients are so abysmally failed. It is only when we fully understand what has gone so wrong that we can fix it. People are losing loved ones to a healthcare system meant to care for them. The Government must now step up and convert the current toothless and, in my view, pointless, Inquiry into a full Statutory Inquiry.”