Mum demands “I want justice” after suicides of 24 patients in care of NHS trust
A bereaved mum leading calls for a public inquiry into the suicides of 24 patients while in the care of an NHS mental health trust has said: “All I want is justice.”
Melanie Leahy’s son Matthew was found hanged in 2012, aged 20, at the Linden Centre, a unit at Chelmsford’s Broomfield Hospital.
Since 2001, he was one of seven to take their life at the site – where we last year exposed a worker dozing instead of watching patients.
Melanie, 55, from Maldon, Essex, said: “He was taken to a place where he was meant to be safe… seven days later he came out in a box.
“But he’s not the only one the Trust has failed.”
All 24 patients who ended their lives in units run by the former North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (NEPUFT) – which merged with South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust in 2017 to form Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUFT) – did so in their rooms.
Inquests and official reports ruled that three of the deaths followed failings by NEPUFT.
And earlier this week, the Health and Safety Executive said it was taking legal action against EPUFT.
The case relates to alleged failings by NEPUFT between 2004 and 2015, and follows a probe into risks from “fixed potential ligature points” in inpatient wards.
The HSE did not probe individual deaths, which are outside its remit.
An inquest into Matthew’s death found he was “subjected to… multiple failings over a long period” at the Linden Centre.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council later disciplined three staff for falsifying care plans for him.
Matthew had called Melanie alleging he was drugged and raped.
Traces of date-rape drug GBH were found in his blood – and four needle marks in his groin.
A 2019 report by the parliamentary health service ombudsman said staff did “not take adequate action” when Matthew reported being raped.
Melanie is joined in her fight by two other sets of parents whose children died at the Linden Centre.
University lecturer Robert Wade, 65, and wife Linda, 69, want answers over son Richard’s death at 30.
Richard, who wrote a book on Conservative Party economic policy, was taken to the site in 2015 following a psychotic episode.
He was found dead in a bathroom less than 12 hours later.
An inquest heard Richard’s risk was “not properly and adequately assessed”.
Mum Linda, of Great Cornard, Suffolk, said: “Richard went into that place to be safe and to live.”
And Lisa Morris wants to know “the full truth” of how son Ben, who suffered with ADHD, died aged 20.
She said he was “going crazy” trying to leave the Linden Centre in the hours before he was found hanged.
A health ombudsman report found “missed opportunities to mitigate the risk” of him taking his own life.
After the police probe, Essex detectives said they found “clear and basic failings” in care but they “did not meet the evidential threshold” for a charge of manslaughter.
Law firm Hodge Jones & Allen is backing the families’ call for an inquiry.
Sally Morris, chief executive of EPUFT, said of the HSE prosecution: “We are restricted in comments we can make. But our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the families whose loved ones were part of this investigation. Safety is our absolute priority.”
The Trust declined to comment on the idea of an inquiry.
If you need to speak to someone, Samaritans are available 24/7 by calling 116 123 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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