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Inquiry launched into 1,500 mental health deaths

Richard Wade
Richard Wade Image credit: news.sky.com

An inquiry has been launched following the deaths of 1,500 people who died on a mental health ward, or within three months of being discharged, between 2000 and 2020.

Chairperson of the investigation, Dr Geraldine Strathdee, said they have heard from 14 bereaved families and former patients, but wants to interview others who have been affected as well as former staff.

Concerns have been raised about patient’s physical, psychological and sexual safety on the ward from patients and their families.

"Right now, we have very limited information on the 1,500 deaths we've been made aware of," said Strathdee.

"Our investigations are ongoing, and we expect to be able to provide a fuller breakdown of this number in the future.

"But as it stands, for example, we have only been given the cause of death for around 40% of these deaths."

Since being opened the inquiry as herd continuous cases of a lack of basic information provided to patients and their families, growing concerns about physical, mental and sexual safety on the wards and major difference in the quality of care in staff attitudes and the use of effective treatments.

Despite the inquest some families are opting to boycott providing information because they believe it does not have enough weight to make a difference.

Richard Wade (pictured above) took his own life at the age of 30 shortly after he was referred to mental health unit in 2015.

"He went in (to the mental health unit in Essex) just after midnight," his father, Robert Wade, 66, of Sudbury, Suffolk told ITV news.

"He was dead by midday.

"He was there for less than 12 hours before the injuries he inflicted on himself."

Mr Wade continued: "It boils down to something really quite simple. They didn't care. They didn't care for him, they didn't seem to care for their professionalism, the consequence was he paid a big price."

His mother Linda Wade, 71, said: "There has got to be change. We can't bring Richard back but that was a young man that went into the Linden Centre for safety and there was no safety.

"To me, from the inquiry there's got to come change, but it probably needs change right across the UK."

Melanie Leahy has spearheaded an eight-year campaign, backed by 70 families, for a full inquiry which will force witnesses to provide evidence after her 20-year-old Son Matthew hanged himself at the Linden Centre in November 2012.

Following his death it later emerged staff had “falsified” his care plan.

Mrs Leahy told Sky News: "To hear of this number of deaths is just mind-boggling.

"This 1,500 figure makes it clear that there's a cull among the most vulnerable.

"What we're calling for is a statutory public inquiry and for it to be widened to involve community deaths.

"Senior members of staff have retired and taken their pensions and we've got no chance of getting them to come forward without the power to force witnesses to give evidence."

If you are having suicidal thoughts you can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email