Medical negligence in mental health: Essex NHS Trust Inquiry

Mental health care in the UK has been under increased scrutiny in recent years, with numerous cases of medical negligence coming to light. 

One such example of the failing system is that of the Essex Partnership University NHS Trust and the scores of deaths of those receiving mental health care from the Trust.  There have been so many deaths that it has led to the establishment of the Lampard Inquiry. This article delves into what led to the inquiry and how Tees can assist in investigating potential medical negligence claims in this often overlooked area.

The Crisis of Mental Health Care in the UK

Mental health care in the UK is in a state of crisis. The NHS, although a world-leading health service, has been struggling to provide adequate mental health care to those in need for many years, resulting in numerous avoidable deaths of vulnerable patients.  Such is the concern about the Essex Partnership University NHS Trust that the Lampard Inquiry will investigate up to 2,000 patient deaths between 2000 and 31 December 2023. 

Essex Partnership University NHS Trust

The Essex Partnership University NHS Trust has been in the spotlight for several years for serious failings in its mental health patients' care. These failings have had devastating consequences, leading to unnecessary patient deaths and causing immeasurable suffering to patients and their families. The gravity of these issues has prompted the government to establish the Lampard Inquiry, with the Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins stating, "We will ensure lessons are learned".

The Lampard Inquiry: A Response to a Crisis

The Lampard Inquiry, led by Baroness Kate Lampard CBE, was established in response to the alleged failings at the Essex Partnership University NHS Trust. The inquiry aims to investigate the circumstances surrounding mental health inpatient deaths in the county, with a particular focus on staff actions and behaviours, the culture and governance of the trusts, and the quality of care provided to patients. The government has announced that the care provided by the North East London NHS Foundation Trust in Essex will also be examined.

The Terms of Reference for the Lampard Inquiry

The Lampard Inquiry has been tasked with investigating several key areas, including:

  1. Serious Failings: The inquiry will examine serious failings related to delivering safe and therapeutic inpatient treatment and care. This includes consideration of circumstances where serious harm, short of death, occurred.
  2. Patient Engagement: This study will examine how and to what extent patients were engaged with and involved in decisions relating to their care.
  3. Family Involvement: The inquiry will address how and the extent to which families, carers or other members of a patient's support network were involved in decisions relating to the patient's care, including any engagement after the patient's death.
  4. Staff Actions and Behaviours: The actions, practices and behaviours of permanent, temporary and agency staff providing mental health inpatient care at the trusts will be scrutinised.
  5. Trust Culture and Governance: The culture and the wider governance of and at the trusts will be investigated, along with the quality of investigations undertaken or commissioned by the trusts in relation to mental health inpatient care.
  6. Public Body Interaction: This will examine the interaction between the trusts and other public bodies, including commissioners, coroners, professional regulators, and the Care Quality Commission.

These terms of reference will guide the inquiry's investigation into the alleged systemic failings at the Essex Partnership University NHS Trust.

**Tees represented Sandra Woods and her family following the tragic death of her husband Mick as a result of the care he received at Essex Partnership University NHS Trust:

My husband died because of the serious failings of EPUT.  Mick received such awful care and treatment that the Coroner concluded that it amounted to neglect.   My grieving family is just one of potentially thousands of families whose loved one died unnecessarily at the hands of EPUT, and yet still it appears lessons have not been learned; this is even though the Trust was fined £ 1.5 million in 2021 over its failure to prevent suicide. The need for an inquiry at all is a tragedy, but I genuinely hope that this will now mark the end of the failings at EPUT.”

How Tees Can Help

Tees Law can provide support and guidance in several key areas:

  • Case Evaluation: Tees can help evaluate potential medical negligence cases, providing advice on whether there is a case to pursue by offering a clear understanding to our clients of the legal processes involved.
  • Claim Investigation: Where there is a case to pursue, Tees can assist in investigating medical negligence claims thoroughly, gathering the necessary evidence and building a strong case.
  • Legal Representation: Tees can provide expert legal representation at inquests and medical negligence claims, advocating for clients' rights and interests throughout the legal process.
  • Support and Guidance: Tees takes a compassionate and empathetic approach to supporting and guiding clients and their families throughout the legal process.

Seeking Justice for Victims of Medical Negligence

Medical negligence in mental health care is a serious issue that requires a comprehensive and diligent response. The Lampard Inquiry represents an important step towards understanding and addressing the alleged systemic failings in mental health care in Essex. For those affected by these failings and those throughout England and Wales, Tees offers expert legal services to help navigate the complex legal landscape and seek justice for any harm suffered.

Contact Tees for More Information

If you or a loved one has been affected by medical negligence in mental health care, Tees is here to help. With a team of dedicated and experienced legal professionals and specialists in mental health Inquests, Tees is committed to helping you seek justice. Contact Tees today for more information on how we can assist with your potential medical negligence claim.

Our  specialist lawyers are based in the following areas:


EssexBrentwoodChelmsford, and Saffron Walden

HertfordshireBishop's Stortford and Royston

But we can help you wherever you are in England and Wales.

Chat to the Author, Alison Hills

Senior Associate, Medical Negligence, Chelmsford office

Meet Alison
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