Priti welcomes Essex mental health statutory inquiry decision
The MP for Witham, Priti Patel, has welcomed the decision taken by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to put the Essex Mental Health Independent Inquiry onto a statutory footing. The announcement was made in a statement in the House of Commons this week (28 June 2023) and Priti spoke in response to support the change to the Inquiry, which she had previously called on the Government to make. She also paid tribute to the campaigning of families affected, including her constituent, Melanie Leahy.
Making the change to a formal statutory hearing means that the Inquiry will have new powers to access documents and compel people to give evidence. This should address some of the concerns about the lack of evidence coming forward so far into the deaths of patients under the care of mental health services in Essex between 2000 and 2020. Priti, who has been supporting families affected, pressed for investigations into mental health services, and has been in discussions with the Secretary of State over changing the inquiry to a statutory one.
Priti said: “I welcome today’s announcement from the Secretary of State and have been campaigning for this decision to be made. I am pleased that the Government has listened to the concerns that the families, MPs and the Chair of the Inquiry have raised and responded positively to them. A statutory inquiry should make a difference, provide more confidence in the process, and help provide families with the answers that they have already been waiting a long time to receive.
“With the added weight of a statutory inquiry taking place, more evidence should be forthcoming, lessons will be learned, and this should lead to improvements to care being made. The families have fought hard over many years and I pay tribute to them for their campaigning and commitment to secure answers and to see services change and improve.”
Priti also commended the work of Dr Gerladine Strathdee, the Chair of the Inquiry, who also called for a statutory inquiry and completed a Rapid Review on inpatient pathway with key recommendations on improving patient care:
“Dr Strathdee has worked hard to secure information and evidence and to seek answers for the families affected. She has exhausted all avenues to make the current Inquiry work and it is right that the Government listened to the case that she put forward for a formal statutory process to be introduced.”
A copy of the statement in the House of Commons and Priti’s comments and questions to the Secretary of State at: