Dunmow woman joins group calling for a public inquiry into mental health care deaths

The late Kevin Peters of Great Dunmow. Picture: Mike Perry

The late Kevin Peters of Great Dunmow. Picture: Mike Perry - Credit: Mike Perry

A Dunmow woman has joined a group seeking answers about how their loved ones died - and they want a public inquiry into deaths connected to mental health care in Essex.

Melanie Leahy with her late son Matthew. Picture: Leahy family

Melanie Leahy with her late son Matthew. Picture: Leahy family - Credit: Melanie Leahy

Holly Storey was married to Kevin Peters, 42, for 20 years, they were parents to two children, and had what Holly described as a “normal” life.

Kevin was Dunmow’s postman for 23 years. He started to feel unwell in 2011. He was diagnosed with anxiety then later with depression and was signed off work.

Holly feels the necessary support was lacking in her husband’s care with his mental health struggles, as medical appointments were cancelled.

He was discharged from hospital after Holly had taken him to A&E, and they were told the Crisis Team would visit their home the next day but they did not turn up for this appointment.

“One day I had been out with our children and came home to Kev saying he had been to the woods wanting to take his life, but he had taken two of our children’s toys, that’s what stopped him, looking at them and knowing he could not leave them.”

They had a short holiday, and came home to find another appointment with a counsellor had been cancelled.

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Kevin took his life in September 2012. Their son Elliot Peters, a Helena Romanes School pupil, died suddenly aged 14 in 2018 of a rare and undiagnosed genetic disorder.

The North Essex Partnership NHS Trust merged with mental health services in southern Essex to form the Essex Partnership University Trust (EPUT) in 2017.

A spokesperson said: “Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust extends its sincere condolences to the family of Kevin Peters who was under the care of the former North Essex Partnership NHS Trust.

“Every death by suicide is a tragedy. Our top priority at EPUT is patient safety and our aspiration as an organisation is to achieve zero suicides for those who use our services.

​“We continue to cooperate fully with ongoing investigations into the care of patients under the former North Essex Partnership NHS Trust.”

A spokesperson for Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust said: “Our thoughts are with Kevin Peters’ family on their loss. Should they wish to raise any concerns regarding his care at Broomfield they are invited to contact the Patient Liaison Service (PALS).”

The campaign for a public inquiry is being led by Melanie Leahy, whose son Matthew Leahy, 20, died at the Linden Centre, Chelmsford, in 2012. An inquest in 2015 found there were “multiple failings”.

Melanie said: “Without accountability, the necessary changes will not happen to prevent future deaths and suffering.”

Hodge Jones and Allen solicitors, a London-based law firm, is supporting the work for free.

The campaign website is www.curementalhealth.co.uk

Samaritans provides support to anyone in emotional distress, or at risk of suicide. They are available at any time for free. Call 116 123.