Essex Mental Health Trust pleads guilty to failings over eleven patient deaths in Essex

  • Watch a report by ITV News Anglia reporter Charlie Frost

A mental health trust in Essex has pleaded guilty to failures of care involving the deaths of 11 patients.

The Essex Partnership University Trust (EPUT) accepted its predecessor, the North Essex Trust, had failed to properly manage fixed ligature points in its inpatient units between 2004 and 2015.

The historic suicides or unexplained deaths occurred at seven of EPUTs sites, including the Linden Centre in Chelmsford.

Bereaved families and campaigners gathered outside Chelmsford Magistrates' Court this morning ahead of the plea hearing. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The prosecution against the Trust was brought by The Health and Safety Executive, the regulator of British workplaces. HSE rarely takes action like this against NHS Trusts.

The patient deaths occured between the 25th October 2004 and the 31st March 2015 while they were in the care of North Essex Partnership Trust. In 2017, North Essex merged with South Essex Partnership Trust to form EPUT.

The Linden Centre in Chelmsford was one of seven sites investigated by the Health & Safety Executive. Credit: ITV News

At a hearing at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court today (Thursday 12th November), lawyer Bernard Thorogood pleaded guilty to the safety failings on behalf of EPUT.

He did not dispute any of the facts put forward by the prosecution.

Shauna Ritchie, prosecuting, said the Trust had failed to take steps to protect patients in their care, stating they had failed to manage the environmental risks from fixed ligature points in their wards.

After the case the Trust issued the following statement, saying its 'deepest sympathies are with the families' involved:

Lisa Morris' son Ben died within 20 days of entering the Linden Centre in 2008. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Lisa Morris, whose son Ben died at the Linden Centre in 2008 was in court to hear the Trusts guilty plea.

Ben's death was one of the 11 involved in today's case.

  • The families campaigning for justice

Richard Wade was a much loved son and brother. Credit: The Wade family

Today's guilty plea is welcomed by families whose loved ones were failed by Essex mental health services, but their campaign for justice isn't stopping here.

Last month (October), the government announced plans for an independent review into a 'series of tragic deaths' at the Linden Centre between 2008 and 2015.

The announcement was made by Health Minister Edward Argar MP during a debate into the death of 30 year old Richard Wade at the Linden Centre in 2015, brought to the House of Commons by South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge.

Richard took his own life within 12 hours of entering the mental health unit.

Melanie Leahy's son Matthew was found dead in his room in the Linden Centre in 2012. Credit: Melanie Leahy

Families of have been rallying the government for an investigation.

However, many of them want a statutory public inquiry, which would be different to the independent review of the Linden Centre being commissioned by Nadie Dorries MP.

Melanie Leahy whose son Matthew died at the Linden Centre in 2012 is leading the campaign, her petition for a public inquiry will be debated in parliament later this month.

She also pushed for today's HSE prosecution. Reacting to EPUTs guilty plea, Melanie said it was a sign people were starting to take notice of the campaign.

Essex Partnership University Trust is due to be sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on the 10th of December.

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