The Essex Mental Health Independent Inquiry has entered a new phase, armed with enhanced powers to delve into the deaths of mental health inpatients in the region. Established in 2021, the inquiry has now transitioned into a statutory inquiry, granting it the authority to compel witnesses to provide evidence. Led by Chairwoman Baroness Kate Lampard, the inquiry is considering expanding its timeframe to include deaths that occurred between 2000 and 2023. The focus of the investigation is to shed light on the deaths of more than 2,000 individuals who were either patients on Essex mental health wards or who died within three months of discharge between 2000 and 2020.
The inquiry had previously encountered a lackluster response from current and former staff members, a setback that former Chairwoman Dr. Geraldine Strathdee referred to as “hugely disappointing.” However, Baroness Lampard, the new chairwoman, is determined to conduct a fair and thorough investigation within a reasonable timeframe. She has emphasized the urgency of the inquiry’s recommendations and has assured families that they will not be compelled to provide evidence. The primary focus of the inquiry is to gather evidence from various stakeholders, including staff, management, organizations, families of the deceased, patients, former patients, and other relevant parties. By doing so, the aim is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the circumstances surrounding these cases and to propose improvements in mental health inpatient care provision.
With renewed vigor and increased powers, the Essex Mental Health Independent Inquiry has relaunched under the leadership of Baroness Kate Lampard. As a statutory inquiry, it now possesses the ability to compel witnesses to provide evidence. Baroness Lampard is contemplating extending the inquiry’s timeframe to encompass deaths spanning from 2000 to 2023. The primary objective of the inquiry is to uncover the circumstances surrounding the deaths of more than 2,000 individuals who were either patients on Essex mental health wards or who died within three months of discharge. The early response from current and former staff was underwhelming, but Baroness Lampard remains resolute in her commitment to gathering evidence from all pertinent parties, including families, patients, and mental health professionals. The ultimate goal is to urgently propose recommendations for enhancing mental health inpatient care.