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Deaths inquiry thrown into doubt as only 11 staff agree to give evidence

The chair of an inquiry into hundreds of deaths at a mental health trust has revealed she may not be able to deliver it in its current form following a ‘hugely disappointing’ lack of staff coming forward to give evidence.

Former national clinical director for mental health, Geraldine Strathdee, chair of the non-statutory inquiry into deaths at Essex Partnership University Trust, has penned an open letter warning just 11 of 14,000 staff contacted said they will attend evidence sessions. 

It was meant to report in spring 2023. However, after raising concerns with ministers, Dr Strathdee said she believes the inquiry will not be able to meet its terms of reference with a non-statutory status.

The inquiry was announced in 2021 and last year chiefs revealed they were probing 1,500 deaths of people in contact with Essex mental health services between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2020.

However, without statutory powers, staff are not compelled to give evidence under oath. Many bereaved families, of which just one in four has engaged with the current probe, are campaigning for a statutory inquiry into deaths.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 13 January 2023


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