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Grieving mothers write damning letter to Linden Centre bosses in Essex saying services ‘still unsafe’

PUBLISHED: 18:33 02 May 2018 | UPDATED: 18:34 02 May 2018

From left, Lisa Morris and Melanie Leahy. Picture: WILL LODGE

From left, Lisa Morris and Melanie Leahy. Picture: WILL LODGE

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Two mothers have said services at an Essex mental health unit where their sons both died are “still not safe”.

Matthew Leahy, who was found hanging at the Linden Centre in Essex in 2012. Picture: CONTRIBUTED BY FAMILYMatthew Leahy, who was found hanging at the Linden Centre in Essex in 2012. Picture: CONTRIBUTED BY FAMILY

Melanie Leahy and Lisa Morris visited The Linden Centre last month and have since written an open letter to bosses to express concerns about what they saw.

Mrs Leahy’s son Matthew died in 2012 and Mrs Morris lost her son Ben in 2008 – they were both found hanging on the Galleywood Ward of the Chelmsford facility.

They have since banded together and formed a campaign group to get answers and prevent further tragedies.

The centre was taken over by Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) from two former trusts in 
April 2017.

The open letter addressed to EPUT reads: “It was a very difficult task to actually return to the place, when both our beautiful boys had died through gross failings in the care offered. But, we both agreed, we needed to visit. To see first hand, the changes 
that we have been hearing about. That have been being actioned over the last number of years. Neither of us anticipated feeling so angry, saddened and let down by the serious issues that we happened across.”

The letters goes on to say staff on the ward – a student nurse and a junior doctor – did not know where the ligature scissors were, which are used if a person attempts to hang themselves, and did not hold a key needed to open doors in an emergency if a patient barricades themselves in.

The mothers also raised concerns about a lack of oxygen bottles on the ward; the way observation sheets are filled in; and the vetting and training of agency staff.

However, they note that some moves in the right direction were being made.

The letters ends: “Services are clearly, still NOT SAFE.”

A spokeswoman for EPUT said it was committed to working with Mrs Leahy and Mrs Morris to “make the improvements we all agree are needed”.

She added: “We know how hard it was for them to revisit the unit and we are most grateful to them for doing so. It is encouraging that on their visit they recognised the steps we are taking to improve safety.

“We need to clarify a few points in their feedback and very much welcome their input.

“We will be responding in detail to all the issues in their letter shortly.

“The families and friends of those we support deserve every assurance that our words are backed up with concrete actions.

“The new trust is on a quality improvement journey. We made changes almost immediately after the merger last year while others will take more time.”

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