Inquiry Call for Evidence Press Release 10th November 2021

Independent Public Inquiry into deaths of mental health inpatients launches call for evidence.

Families, carers, and friends of inpatients in Essex who died between 2000 and 2020 are invited to give evidence to the independent Inquiry about what happened to their loved one. Anyone else with experience of mental health inpatient services in Essex during the 20 year period are also invited to give evidence to the Inquiry.

10 November 2021: The Essex Mental Health Independent Inquiry has today launched a call for evidence from families and carers of inpatients who died across NHS Trusts in Essex between 2000-2020, as well as anyone else with experience of mental health inpatient services across Essex during this 20 year period.

This is a chance for anyone with experience of mental health inpatient services in Essex to have their story heard and in doing so inform change in the provision of mental health services in the future.  

Dr Geraldine Strathdee, Chair of the Independent Inquiry, said: “I took the job as the Chair of the Essex Mental Health Independent Inquiry because I firmly believe that mental health care can and should do better for those who need it. I know that to improve mental health care we need to listen to those who have experienced it. This is why, hearing directly from families and carers who best knew those that were tragically lost, and patients who have experienced care themselves, is at the heart of this Inquiry. We will then develop clear recommendations for the Essex Trust, and the wider system, so that current and future inpatients receive safe, compassionate, and therapeutic care.

The Inquiry is ready to listen to anyone who would like to speak to us. Anyone who does speak to the Inquiry will be supported, and treated with dignity, care, and respect.”

As well as patients, families and carers, there will also be the opportunity over the coming weeks and months for staff and organisations, as well as anyone else who would like to, to provide evidence. The Inquiry will similarly launch a call to evidence for other groups related to the Inquiry in due course.

The Inquiry intends to publish its findings and recommendations in spring 2023. These recommendations will be essential to taking forward lessons learned to improve mental health services and prevent inpatient deaths in the future, not only in Essex but across the NHS and wider system.

Anyone who wishes to give evidence can contact the Inquiry team by emailing, calling 0207 972 3500 or filling out this webform. The Inquiry team will respond as soon as they can to arrange a session. Sessions will be held in Chelmsford (Essex) and in London and you will be invited to speak to two members of the Inquiry team.

We know that for many people, sharing information about those that have died, or your own experience as an inpatient, will be hugely difficult. The Inquiry team have set out further information on what you can expect from the evidence process in these FAQs and this video. The team will support you throughout and you will have access to specialist emotional support.

Today’s call for evidence follows publication of the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference in August. These were publicly consulted on for 10 weeks from 26th May 2021 and can be found here. After all evidence has been heard, the Inquiry team will begin their preliminary analysis and consider whether further evidence is required to meet its Terms of Reference and enable development of their recommendations for improving patient safety and mental health care.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss the process around giving evidence, or any other aspect of the Inquiry, please email or call us on 0207 972 3500.

You can find more information on the call for evidence here.

Terms of Reference Publication 24th August 2021

The Inquiry has now published its Terms of Reference, which can be found here, along with an Explanatory Note which explains in more detail what the Inquiry will investigate.

The Terms of Reference are based on a 10-week public consultation. The Chair, Dr Geraldine Strathdee, considered all the views expressed throughout the consultation, as well as documentary evidence and feedback on the draft Terms of Reference. Further detail on the process can be found in the Explanatory Note.

Now that the Terms of Reference are set, the Inquiry will move onto gathering evidence. We will shortly be publishing a call for witnesses with full details on how individuals can come forward to tell the Inquiry about their experiences. The team will be hearing from a range of witnesses including families, patients, and others affected by mental health inpatient treatment and deaths in Essex. More details will be available in due course.

Inquiry Press Release 26th May 2021

Independent Inquiry launches consultation with families into Essex mental health deaths
26 May 2021: The families of people who died while receiving inpatient mental health treatment at three Essex hospital trusts are being invited to get in touch with the independent inquiry set up to look into the circumstances of their deaths.

The families and others affected by the deaths are being urged to give their views on the issues to be considered by the Essex Mental Health Independent Inquiry, announced by the Government on 21 January 2021, as part of a consultation exercise launched today. In its announcement earlier this year, the Government said the Inquiry would investigate the circumstances of mental health inpatient deaths which occurred over a 20-year period between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2020 at the former North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (NEPT), the former South Essex Partnership University Trust (SEPT) and the Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT), which took over the provision of mental health services in Essex from 2017.

The Inquiry Chair, Dr. Geraldine Strathdee, now wants to hear the views of families and others affected by these events on the issues to be considered by the non-statutory independent Inquiry, as set out by the Government in January. The public will also have the opportunity to shape how the Inquiry obtains its evidence, including whether evidence should be heard in public or private hearings and whether it should be given anonymously or confidentially.

The Inquiry team has begun to reach out to families to invite them to share their views. At the end of the six-week consultation period, the Inquiry will publish its draft terms of reference, and there will be a further opportunity to comment on these terms before they are finalised.

Dr. Strathdee said: “I cannot imagine the intolerable pain and loss that the families of those who died have experienced. I am committed to putting their interests and the interests of those affected by these tragic events at the heart of this Inquiry and I urge them to get in touch with us.

In holding this Inquiry, our aim is to get to the truth about what happened and ultimately to improve care for people experiencing mental ill health and ensure their families have the support they need, at the right time. We want the families and those affected by these events to tell us the issues they want to see included in the terms of reference to ensure it is as robust as possible. It is vital that we understand the course of events and what has gone wrong if we are to improve the system and services and prevent deaths in future.”

The Inquiry’s findings, expected to be published in spring 2023, will be essential to taking forward the lessons learned from these events to improve mental health services and prevent inpatient deaths in the future, not only in Essex but across the NHS and wider system.

In establishing the Inquiry, Nadine Dorries, former Minister for Patient Safety, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health, said she had listened carefully to arguments for a more formal, statutory inquiry but considered that a non-statutory, independent inquiry was the best way to deliver a robust and independent process which will get to the truth and identify improvements in the timeliest way. Accordingly, the format of the Inquiry is not part of this consultation.
Those wishing to share their views on what the Inquiry should consider can do so either via an online survey on its website, by writing to the Inquiry or through a virtual or face-to-face meeting. Anyone wishing to request a meeting or find out more should email the Inquiry at or they can call 0207 972 3500.

After the terms of reference have been finalised, the Inquiry will move on to the next stage in which it will take detailed evidence from families and others affected.

For further information please contact or 0207 972 3500.

Written Statement 21st January 2021

Written Statement to Parliament 21st January 2021