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Mum asks public to write to MPs demanding inquiry into son's death

PUBLISHED: 05:30 17 June 2019

From left, Amanda Cook, Lisa Morris and Melanie Leahy, who have all been campaigning for a public inquiry into their relatives' deaths while in the care of the North Essex Partnership Picture: WILL LODGE

From left, Amanda Cook, Lisa Morris and Melanie Leahy, who have all been campaigning for a public inquiry into their relatives' deaths while in the care of the North Essex Partnership Picture: WILL LODGE

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An Essex mother is urging people to write to their MP and sign a petition calling for a public inquiry into the death of her son at a mental health trust.

Matthew Leahy, who was found hanging at the Linden Centre in Essex back in 2012Matthew Leahy, who was found hanging at the Linden Centre in Essex back in 2012

Melanie Leahy says "something went terribly wrong" with the NHS services provided to Matthew, 20, which led to his death in 2012.

Last week the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) identified a series of significant failings made in the care of Matthew and another vulnerable patient, identified only as Mr R, who died at the former North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (NEP).

The PHSO said NEP had "missed opportunities" to ensure the safety of the young men and their families had been "badly let down" by the Trust, which had failed to make improvements in the years following their deaths.

So far Mrs Leahy's online petition calling on the Government to hold a public inquiry has been signed by nearly 6,000 people. If it reaches 10,000 signatures, Whitehall officials will issue a response.

The Linden Centre in Chelmsford. 
Picture : NICK STRUGNELLThe Linden Centre in Chelmsford. Picture : NICK STRUGNELL

Meanwhile, she is appealing for people to write to their MP and particularly to Government ministers to ask for an inquiry.

She said: "There really is no way that public concern can be allayed, short of an Inquiry.

"There has been an inadequacy of investigation. A human rights violation. New evidence has been uncovered and I request a statutory inquiry, that compels witnesses to give evidence on oath.

"Matthew is not alone. Many others have died, whilst, 'In The Care Of The State'."

Matthew was found hanged at the Galleywood Ward of the Linden Centre mental health unit in Chelmsford in 2012 just a week after being sectioned under the mental health act.

His parents, Melanie and Michael, said his death had "left a void that nothing can fill".

"Not a day passes when we do not miss him and despair at the thought of how his life was cut short, so needlessly," they said.

"We want the public to know what happened to our son so this never happens again."

Essex Police's major crime team conducted a large-scale investigation into 25 deaths of people in the care of NEP since 2000.

Officers found "clear and basic failings" as part of the probe. but found it did not meet the threshold for a corporate manslaughter charge.

Witham MP Priti Patel has backed Mrs Leahy's call for a public inquiry.

She said: "I fully sympathise with the hurt, pain and distress the families feel.

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"I commend the steely determination of Melanie Leahy and all the other families who have been campaigning on this issue in tragic circumstances and I know that they are disappointed with the outcome of previous investigations."

Newly-formed Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) chief executive Sally Morris said: "The Ombudsman reports that, in both these cases, the care by the former NEP fell well below acceptable standards. We are very sorry indeed for the additional pain and distress this has caused Mr and Mrs Leahy."

For more information on the petition, visit petition.parliament.uk/petitions/255823

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