Monday, 18 September 2017

Police investigating up to 25 deaths at Essex mental health units

Up to 25 deaths at various mental health units run by the North Essex Partnership NHS Trust are being investigated by police.

Nine different establishments formerly run by the Trust are part of an inquiry by Essex Police to see if there is a criminal case to answer, 5 News has revealed.

In May, the channel reported the investigation in relation to seven deaths at the Linden Centre, a mental health unit run by the Trust. Now, police have confirmed the investigation has broadened significantly.

The Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate began the investigation following the death of 20-year-old Matthew Leahy, who died at the Linden Centre in November 2012. Matthew was one of seven patients who have died at the centre since 2001, all by attaching a ligature to fixtures or furniture on the wards.

International Development Secretary Priti Patel, who is the local MP for many of the families, has written to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and asked for a public inquiry into Matthew Leahy’s death.

She told 5 News: "Even though numerous investigations and reports have been written many questions still remain unanswered with many more coming to the fore."

Public inquiry

Former health minister Norman Lamb has also written to Mr Hunt, and asked for a public inquiry.

"The trust is alleged to have failed to identify and address multiple safety concerns, including inadequate staffing and a failure to properly risk assess patients," his letter states. "In the light of the extent and severity of the concerns raised … I would strongly urge you to consider the case for setting up a full public inquiry."

Sofia Dimoglou’s mother, 76 year old Valerie Dimoglou, killed herself while on day release from The Lakes, another mental health unit run by the Trust. Ms Dimoglou claims her mum told staff she would kill herself if she was made to leave hospital.

"By shining a light on [her death] some truths might be uncovered," she said.

Essex Police said: "We are looking at nine establishments including the Linden Centre. We are investigating up to 25 deaths dating from 2000 onwards to ascertain whether there were any criminal failings of persons connected to the organisation."

In April 2017 the trust involved merged with another trust to become Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust. A spokeswoman said: "We extend our sincere condolences to the families who have lost loved ones and assure them that the actions detailed in our response from May this year are all on track."