Legal authority granted to the Essex mental health deaths inquiry

Melanie Leahy, a campaigner, and Priya Singh, a lawyer, are joyfully embracing

Campaigners have won by granting additional authority to an inquiry looking into the deaths of mental health patients in Essex.

The investigation would be given a statutory basis, Health Secretary Steve Barclay informed Parliament.

It implies that the investigation has the power to compel witnesses, including former county employees, to testify.

Mr. Barclay stated that he was devoted to providing the families with answers.

In his statement to the Commons, he expressed his hope that the news of today would bring some solace to the courageous families who had worked so hard to raise awareness. ".

In order to investigate the fatalities of people who had used Essex's mental health services between 2000 and 2020, an independent investigation was started in 2021.

Dr. Geraldine Strathdee, the chair of the inquiry, stated in December of last year that it had information identifying up to 2,000 people who may have passed away.

The Essex Partnership University NHS Trust (EPUT), the current provider of mental health services, disputes this figure.

Dr. Strathdee also requested more authority in a letter to the health secretary earlier this year because not enough former employees had come forward to provide testimony.

Less than 30% of those she referred to as "essential witnesses" had indicated an interest in attending evidence sessions, she claimed.

In response to the announcement made today, she expressed her confidence that the inquiry's statutory status would enable it to produce a thorough report and make recommendations that would result in urgently needed improvements. ".

Also announcing her resignation as chair, Dr. Strathdee cited health concerns.

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