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Leading Mental Health Charity SANE Joins Call For Statutory Public Inquiry Into 2,000 deaths At An NHS Trust In Essex

Leading UK mental health charity SANE has joined the longstanding campaign calling for a statutory public inquiry into 2,000+ deaths of patients of Essex Mental Health Services. The deaths occurred between 2000 and 2020 and all those who died were either patients under Essex Partnership University Trust (EPUT) or had been discharged within three months of their death.

The charity’s Chief Executive, Marjorie Wallace CBE, expressed her support in an open letter to Health Minister, Steve Barclay. In the letter she urges the Government to upgrade the current independent inquiry into a statutory public inquiry with the power to compel witnesses and have evidence given under oath.

SANE have joined the campaign following the Chair of the current inquiry stating publicly that it does not have the powers to meet its terms of reference. This reflects the fact that, reportedly, only 11 out of 14,000 former or current members of staff have agreed to give oral evidence, effectively stalling the inquiry’s work.

Melanie Leahy, who leads the campaign, said: “My thanks to Marjorie and her colleagues at Sane for their public support. It means so very much to have their understanding and support for our current situation. I truly cannot believe that the Government continue to delay in converting the current toothless inquiry to one with the ‘statutory’ powers it so desperately needs. Multiple deaths and systemic abuse cannot be allowed to continue. Getting to the truth is the only way to stop the needless deaths of our most vulnerable. Public confidence in Essex Mental Health services is now at its very lowest and can only be restored with a full re-set of the entire Essex mental health system, in order to bring about the changes so desperately needed not just here in Essex, but across our entire nation. Our future generations depend on us sorting this….now!”

Nina Ali, Solicitor for 80+ effected Essex families at Hodge Jones & Allen, added: “The support of SANE Charity is hugely welcomed as they are tireless campaigners for improved quality of life for those affected by mental illness. Marjorie Wallace and her team are dedicated to ensuring no one with a mental illness is neglected or treated poorly. Our families are growing increasingly frustrated by the Government’s now incomprehensible failure to take the obvious next step and put the current inquiry onto a statutory footing. Only a statutory inquiry carries the legal powers to compel witnesses to attend, to give their evidence under oath and to order full disclosure of the relevant documentation. Our families are heartened and very grateful for the support from SANE.”

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