12 June 2023

This is a media release by Bindmans LLP.

Before Area Coroner Sonia Hayes
Essex Coroner’s Court,
Seax House, Victoria Road South, Chelmsford,
Essex, CM1 1LX
Opens on 12 June 2023
Conclusion expected 23 June 2023

An inquest has opened into the death of a young Black woman whilst she was a patient in an Essex mental health unit, which provided care for patients with personality disorders.

Edwige Nsilu was 20 years old when she died while detained under the Mental Health Act as an inpatient at Colne Ward, St Andrew’s Healthcare Essex. She died on 5 February 2020 at Basildon University hospital, following a ligature incident on the ward at St Andrews on 3 February 2020. 

The healthcare watchdog, the Care Quality Commission, inspected the ward in the week after Edwige’s death and identified numerous risks.

Edwige Nsilu was born and raised in London. Her parents were from the Democratic Republic of Congo and raised her to speak their native language of Lingala as well as English.  Her family describe her as loving, warm, nurturing, gorgeous and strong, with a strong affinity for her Congolese background and culture. 

Edwige was taken into care at the age of 15. She was first detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 at the age of 16, following which she was detained in various secure mental health units until her tragic death in 2020. Edwige had a diagnosis of Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. She had a history of serious self-harm.

On 8 April 2019 Edwige was transferred to Colne Ward, St Andrews’ Healthcare Essex. On 3 February 2020 an incident occurred on the ward which led to her being admitted to Basildon University Hospital, where she tragically died two days later.

As well as the medical cause of death, the inquest will now explore the following issues:

  • Edwige admission, diagnosis, care and treatment at St. Andrews Healthcare.
  • Diagnosis of risk of self-harm, care plans and risk assessments.
  • Level of observations required.
  • Events that led to the death, including whether there were any individual or system failures, acts or omissions that caused or contributed.
  • Emergency Response on 3 February 2020.



For further information, interview requests and to note your interest, please contact Lucy McKay on 020 7263 1111 or [email protected]

The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Joseph Morgan of Bindman’s solicitors and Kirsten Sjovoll of Matrix Chambers.

Other Interested persons represented are St Andrew’s Healthcare Essex.

Journalists should refer to the Samaritans Media Guidelines for reporting suicide and self-harm and guidance for reporting on inquests.

The Care Quality Commission inspections of St Andrew’s Healthcare Essex are available here.