An independent inquest into the deaths of nearly 2,000 mental health patients in the care of the Trust (EPUT) is currently underway, but bereaved families are frustrated as the inquest lacks the legal power to compel witnesses to testify. Following the death of her son, a mother who was told by the Essex Partnership University NHS Trust mental health team that her son could wait up to 28 days for an in-person assessment joined the chorus of people calling for a “proper investigation”. of confidence.
Jazz Phephisa Siphelele Mabuza, 22, was found dead by police on March 14, 2023, just four days after his mother, Xolile Ngcobo, called a hotline and begged a mental health nurse at the help, only to be sure her son will be seen by a mental health team within 28 days. Her “loving, always smiling” son, who was diagnosed with psychosis in 2021, is the reason she is seeking justice. People continue to die as lawyers for Hodge Jones & Allen seek judicial review in an attempt to compel the government to make it a statutory inquiry.
Ngcobo, a 42-year-old health worker, choked back her sobs as she recalled, “I will never forget that call, I was asking for help. I told them he was suffering from psychotic symptoms and could no longer take medication. It was extremely annoying to be on hold for an entire hour. I cried, I begged, I argued that 28 days was too long. “The nurse said to me, ‘I’m the mother, I should take care of him,’ and I said, ‘I’ve never treated anyone with psychosis.'”
According to Ngcobo, Mabuza was released from a mental health facility in November last year, after being a patient there for about a year. She learned in February that he ran out of antipsychotic medication in December, but was unable to plead for him to be given a refill. On March 10, 2023, she desperately called the hotline, but claimed the nurse relied on Mabuza’s inaccurate assessment of her son’s illness despite her lack of competence.
He was obviously not himself. She explained that he had lost a lot of weight since he stopped eating, sleeping and taking his medication. “He had completely lost all hope; he was completely gone. When the nurse inquired about the nature of the voices he was hearing, he replied, “They’re beautiful voices, it’s not violent or anything.” The nurse gave him the all clear to rest at home, so he is. They prayed together after Mabuza made the call, but he disappeared and was later found dead in Dover, according to the woman.
They took him for 16 because he was so much thinner. Saying, “I have never known such pain,” Ngcobo said. If there is a thorough investigation, those responsible may face consequences and we may get our loved ones shut down. If we don’t learn from this. I don’t want my own children or other children to go through what we went through. Inquiry chair Dr Geraldine Strathdee warned of “serious and ongoing risks to patient safety” and said she needed statutory powers to carry out inquiries effectively.
EPUT CEO Paul Scott expressed his condolences to Mabuza’s family and said: “We are undertaking a full review of Phephisa’s care and engaging with her family to ensure we hear and consider their concerns.” We will ensure that all the lessons we learn are implemented in our efforts to better serve our patients. They are “carefully reviewing the next steps in the investigation and will update them in due course,” the Department of Health and Social Care said. You can call Mind on (0300) 123-3393 or Childline on (0800) 1111 in the UK for free, confidential support. In the United States, you can reach Mental Health America at 800-273-8255. Beyond Blue can be contacted on 1300 22 4636, Lifeline on 13 11 14 and MensLine on 1300 789 978 for assistance in Australia.