• Essex Partnership University Foundation Trust will not face corporate manslaughter charges, the police have said
  • Police investigated deaths of 25 patients across nine inpatient units 
  • The Health and Safety Executive will continue its investigation into the trust

A mental health trust will not face charges of corporate manslaughter, the police have said following a probe into multiple patient deaths.

In January 2017, Essex Police launched an investigation into whether North Essex Partnership University Foundation Trust – now part of Essex Partnership University Foundation Trust – should be charged with corporate manslaughter, following the deaths of 25 patients across nine inpatient units, dating as far back as 2001. 

In an update yesterday evening, families were told the case for criminal charges had not been made and the police would take no further action. 

In a statement, Essex Police said: “Following a full investigation into the circumstances into those deaths, the evidential threshold has not been met to proceed to a charge for corporate manslaughter or to refer the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service for a charging decision.”

The statement added the investigation currently being carried out by the Health and Safety Executive into the trust’s units “will now take primacy”. 

Although the police investigation did not find enough evidence to pursue criminal charges, it did find areas of “clear and basic” failings regarding patient care.

Key areas of concern related to: searching policies; leave and observations; care plans and packages; communication between staff and families; the accessibility of information regarding patients and the appointment of appropriate staff. 

Speaking with HSJ, Melanie Leahy, mother of Matthew Leahy, one of the patients whose death was being investigated, said: “It is totally disappointing that it has been allowed to have gone on for so long, with nobody from the HSE doing anything.

“There was evidence going back to 2001, that safety issues were not addressed then and it’s been allowed to continue and yet nobody has been held to account.”

Detective superintendent Stephen Jennings, for Essex Police, said: “We would like to acknowledge the support, patience and co-operation of all of the families concerned in this investigation.

“We fully understand it has been an extremely difficult time for them and we know our decision will not be the news they wanted to hear.”

In a statement, Sally Morris, chief executive for EPUT, said: “We appreciate this will be a difficult time for those people who sadly lost a loved one… While the police investigation has now concluded, the HSE’s investigation into the care of some patients by the former NEP is ongoing and we will continue to work closely with them.”

NEP merged with South Essex Partnership University FT in April 2017 to form EPUT.