Clinical Negligence & Catastrophic Injury Solicitors
Families fight on after mental health trust deaths.
Families who have spent years campaigning for justice after the deaths of up to 25 people at a controversial mental health trust have vowed to carry on fighting after police said that they would take no further action.
Essex Police launched an investigation into the deaths of patients at nine mental health units run by North Essex Partnership University Trust (NEP) – now known as the Essex Partnership University Trust – since 2009.
Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate found “clear and basic failings in the care of those vulnerable adults” whose cases were considered by police as part of their 18-month investigation.
However, the force has said that no action will be taken because the evidence did not “meet the evidential threshold for corporate manslaughter.”
Melanie Leahy, whose son Matthew was found hanged in 2012, aged 20, while receiving treatment at the Linden Centre in Chelmsford, Essex, run by NEP, was one of many relatives shocked by the outcome.
An inquest into Matthew’s death found that he was subject to a string of failings and missed opportunities.
Mrs Leahy said: “There was a lot of tension in the room when the police said that they were closing the case. I feel absolutely deflated. I feel ashamed of every agency that has had any dealings with this whole sorry affair.
“So many people have died but there’s not been one person accountable for any failings. There has been no justice for any of our loved ones whatsoever and, at the moment, there’s no accountability to be had anywhere.”
A parallel investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into some of the deaths, including that of Matthew Leahy, is continuing.
A report of Essex Police’s full findings will be made available at the conclusion of the HSE investigation, expected later in 2019.
Since 2001, seven patients are believed to have died at the Linden Centre all by attaching a ligature to fixtures or furniture on the wards.
Police were able to consider only deaths that occurred after April 2008, when the Corporate Manslaughter Act came into force.
The police investigation found a number of areas that lead to the failings, including care plans and packages, communication with family, the accessibility of patient information and the appointment of appropriate staff.
Superintendent Stephen Jennings of Kent and Essex SCD, said: “We would like to acknowledge the support, patience and co-operation of all of the families concerned in this investigation.
“We fully understand it has been an extremely difficult time for them and we know our decision will not be the news they wanted to hear.
“But I want to assure them that my team carried out a thorough and extensive investigation and, while we have not been able to meet the evidential threshold to bring charges for corporate manslaughter, we will continue to assist our HSE colleagues in their investigation into the management of ligature risks.”
Last year the then international development secretary, Priti Patel, local MP for many of the families, wrote to the then Health and Social Care Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, seeking a public inquiry into Matthew Leahy’s death. Former health minister, Norman Lamb, also wrote to Mr Hunt asking for a public inquiry.
Ms Leahy said she and other families will now lobby the Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, for a public inquiry to be held.
She added: “A lot of people are broken and emotional. After we sit down to digest everything we will just have to get up again and keep fighting. It’s the only way we are going to get the truth of what happened.”