28 March 2022

The ongoing independent inquiry into the deaths of mental health inpatients in Essex has today published an update.

This is the first public inquiry into mental health services that has ever been held in England and established by a Minister.

The inquiry has so far been made aware of 1,500 people who died while they were a patient on a mental health ward in Essex, or within three months of being discharged. They are looking at cases between 2000 and 2020.

They will be examining how this compares to other areas in England, and establishing the circumstances and arising issues in those deaths.

The inquiry was announced in November 2020 following powerful campaigning by bereaved families, led by Melanie Leahy. Her son Matthew, aged 20, was one of six people to die at the Linden Centre in Essex over a short period.

Over 75 families continue to campaign for a statutory public inquiry, in place of this one. Statutory inquiries are judge led and have more powers, including to compel witnesses to give evidence.

Selen Cavcav, Senior Caseworker at INQUEST, said: “We continue to believe that only an inquiry with more teeth, namely a statutory public inquiry, will restore trust and ensure the broad ranging scrutiny needed to tackle the unacceptable death toll of people under the care of Essex mental health services.  

Previous critical inquests, inspections and investigations of these services have failed to compel the transformation in culture and leadership that is clearly needed in Essex. This speaks not only to the issues locally, but to a national lack of accountability, scrutiny and oversight of deaths in mental health settings and the issues they uncover.

We already know this inquiry will find failures, most of which will not come as a surprise to many bereaved families or survivors who have long fought for the truth. The value of this inquiry as it stands can only be judged by its impact in creating change. That change is long overdue.”

Ten days ago, the inquest into the death of Bethany Lilley, 28, who was an inpatient under the care of Essex University Partnership Trust, concluded that neglect and a range of failures by the mental health services contributed to her death. She died on 16 January 2019. Her death is one of so many examples of the harms caused by these services.



For more information contact Lucy McKay on [email protected]

See the Essex Mental Health Independent Inquiry website for the latest updates.

See the petition for an alternative Statutory Public Inquiry, made by bereaved families.

Background on the inquiry and relevant cases: