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Families launch court case in bid for public inquiry into deaths


The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is facing being taken to court over an inquiry it launched into the deaths of dozens of mental health patients in Essex.

Last year, the government said it would commission an independent inquiry into at least 36 inpatient deaths in Essex, which had taken place over the last two decades.

However, more than 70 families are calling for a full statutory public inquiry, which can compel witnesses to give evidence. They have lodged judicial review proceedings at the High Court against the government to that effect.

The DHSC said it could not comment on ongoing legal proceedings.

The current inquiry was launched in response to a highly critical report from the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman, published in June 2019, into the deaths of two patients at North Essex Partnership University Foundation Trust, which has since merged to form Essex Partnership University FT.

There has also been an investigation by Essex Police into 25 of the deaths. This concluded in 2018, when the force said there had been “clear and basic” care failings, but there was not enough evidence to prosecute the trust for corporate manslaughter.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 11 May 2021

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