Press Release 30/09/2020

PRESS RELEASE: 

30 September 2020

Mother of Matthew Leahy pens open letter to Parliamentary Petition Committee as her petition for a Public Inquiry into the death of her son reaches 105,580 signatures and more families come forward to reveal stories of horrific abuse and neglect by Essex Mental Healthcare services.

  • Melanie Leahy met with Catherine McKinnell MP, Chair of the Parliamentary Petitions Committee and penned the open letter thereafter.
  • North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (NEP) described as “insidious and rotten”.
  • It comes as Health & Safety Executive takes its own action to prosecute the Trust where Melanie’s son died.

Melanie Leahy, mother of Matthew Leahy who died in 2012 whilst in the care of North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (NEP), met with Catherine McKinnell MP, Chair of the Parliamentary Petitions Committee last Thursday (24 September) to discuss her petition calling for a Statutory Public Inquiry into the death of her son under the care of Essex mental health services.

The petition has garnered 105,580 signatures, which warrants it a debate in Parliament.

In an open letter written by Melanie following her meeting, she calls upon the government to prioritise the debate as a matter of urgency to avoid the future deaths of individuals, and re-iterates the ongoing campaign for a Public Inquiry into the deaths and abuse of multiple past victims whilst in the care of Essex mental health services. 

More families coming forward

Since Melanie launched her campaign for a Public Inquiry earlier this year, a total of 24 families have come forward to tell their stories of appalling patient abuse – including stories of rape and patients being set on fire – suffered under the care of psychiatric services across Essex. The search for additional families continues, with Melanie and the team behind the campaign encouraging those who have lost loved ones either to inpatient or community deaths, or individuals themselves who have been failed and survived, to make themselves known. 

“Whether it was under NEP, South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (SEPT), or Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, whether the victim is young or old, it matters not. What matters is that we unite together to get answers and force change for the better. Other lives depend on it”, says Melanie. 

“Insidious and rotten”

The accounts of abuse collected so far span many years. 

“We are not talking about negligent care here, but active, systemic and ongoing gross neglect and abuse of the vulnerable”, writes Melanie in her letter. “There is something insidious and rotten in Essex Mental Healthcare, both across its inpatient facilities and in care being provided in the community, and it must be exposed and stopped.”

Hodge Jones and Allen solicitors, the London-based social justice law firm, is leading the legal campaign for a Public Inquiry with Melanie. 

Nina Ali, Partner at Hodge Jones & Allen, said:

“Let me be very clear – there is evidence of ongoing exploitation and abuse within Essex mental health services which have led to unexplained deaths, people taking their own lives, and injured parties traumatised for life. 

Priya Singh, Associate at Hodge Jones & Allen, said:

“There have been investigations in the past, but they have been piecemeal and fragmented – the system has not changed one bit. We are pushing for a Public Inquiry because it’s our firm belief that only with the combined voices of these families will those responsible be held to account.”

Prosecution by HSE

Melanie’s letter comes as Health & Safety Executive, Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety, yesterday launched its own prosecution against the Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (formed of a merger between NEP and SEPT in 2017) for how NEP managed environmental risks from fixed potential ligature points in its inpatient wards between 25 October 2004 and 31 March 2015.

Public support

In Melanie’s fight for truth and justice, she has gained support from Barbara Keeley, MP for Worsley and Eccles South; Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth; Home Secretary Priti Patel; and politician and retired MP Sir Norman Lamb, among others. The Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman, Rob Brehens, has also ordered a government review into Matthew’s case. Those endorsements can be viewed here: http://www.curementalhealth.co.uk/endorsements 

Melanie was accompanied by Nina Ali and Priya Singh of Hodge Jones & Allen at her meeting with the Petitions Committee. Also working alongside Melanie is The Inquest Group and a QC.

The full letter by Melanie can be viewed here: http://www.curementalhealth.co.uk/open-letter-to-petitions-committee-chair-ms-catherine-mckinnell-mp/

The campaign for the Public Inquiry is ongoing. 

Those who want to join the call should contact Nina Ali and Priya Singh at HJA Solicitors:

Nina Ali, Partner: nali@hja.net

Priya Singh, Associate: psingh@hja.net

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