Ombudsman calls for review into failings identified at at former county health trust

Matthew Leahy died after being admitted to the North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Tru

Matthew Leahy died after being admitted to the North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust's Linden Centre in 2012. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

An ombudsman has called for a national review into years of potential failings at an NHS trust which provided social care, substance misuse and mental health services for more than 17,000 people in north Essex, including in Uttlesford.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has called for a review into the North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (NEP), which dissolved in 2017, to be replaced by the Essex Partnership University NHS Trust.

The call follows the ombudsman's investigations into the deaths of two vulnerable young men at NEP, which found a series of significant failings in their care and treatment.

Rob Behrens, parliamentary and health service ombudsman, said: "These young men and their families were badly let down by North Essex Partnership Trust. The lack of timely safety improvements following their deaths is completely unacceptable and it's important the NHS understands why this happened and what lessons can be learned to prevent the same mistakes happening again."

NHS Improvement has agreed to establish a review in line with the Ombudsman's recommendations and will share any learning it identifies across the NHS as needed.

The review will only commence once a current Health and Safety Executive investigation into NEP has concluded.

The ombudsman investigated the death of Matthew Leahy, who was bought to NEP's Linden Centre and admitted under the mental health act in November 2012, dying that same month, aged 20.

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While some aspects of Matthew's care and treatment were in line with guidelines, the ombudsman's investigation found that, amongst other significant failings, NEP did not have an updated care plan in place and did not properly allocate a key worker to him or respond appropriately when he reported being raped.

The ombudsman also found that NEP's investigation into Matthew's death was inadequate and the trust was not open and honest with his family about what was being done to improve safety at the Linden Centre.

Sally Morris, chief executive of Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust said: "We will carry out the ombudsman's recommendations and will support NHS's forthcoming review into the former NEP in every way possible."