Secretary for Mental Health Inpatient Deaths in Essex Inquiry


Leeds, London


About the job


The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) published his report “Missed opportunities: What lessons can be learned from failings at the North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust” on 11 June 2019 which found that there were a series of significant failings in the care and treatment of two vulnerable young men who died shortly after being admitted to North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust.

This has resulted in the establishment of a non-statutory, independent inquiry into the circumstances of mental health in-patient deaths at the former North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, the former South Essex Partnership University Trust and the Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, which took over responsibility for mental health services in Essex from 2017. This will cover the period from 1 January 2000 to 31 December 2020.

Psychiatrist Dr Geraldine Strathdee CBE will chair the inquiry. Dr Strathdee worked for many years as a consultant psychiatrist in the NHS. She brings a wealth of experience in mental health policy, regulation and clinical management and is a co-founder of the Zero Suicides Alliance. The chair will be supported by expert advisers, including a legal adviser.

The inquiry will consider issues including:

• the key factors that led to the deaths of individual patients, whether issues of omission or commission;
• aspects of culture and governance that inhibited the trust(s)’ ability to learn and take action following any breaches of safety;
• the quality of any previous investigations by the trust(s), the conclusions and recommendations of those investigations and the subsequent actions;
• the response of the wider system to these events and the actions taken by the trust(s) in response to investigations or reviews conducted by any other body; and
• the further lessons for the Essex Partnership University Foundation NHS Trust and what actions are necessary for the new trust chief executive and its board to ensure that current and future patients receive sustainable safe care; and
• further lessons arising for the mental health services, the NHS and the wider system.


Job description

The Mental Health Inpatient Deaths in Essex Inquiry is an independent non-statutory inquiry to be chaired by Dr Geraldine Strathdee which will start in April 2021. Details of the inquiry were announced in Parliament on 21 January.

Details can be found at:

The Secretary will work to and for the Inquiry and will assist the Inquiry in whatever way necessary to fulfil the terms of reference – establishing the Inquiry, establishing processes, analysing data, production of the final report.

The Secretary has an important role in maintaining stakeholder confidence in the Inquiry by guarding its independence, while ensuring it remains accountable to the Department for use of resources.

The Secretary will be required to prepare and present material to the inquiry, provide advice and support during meetings and manage any conflicts of interest that can arise in the normal course of the inquiries work.

The Secretary of the Inquiry acts as the main contact between the Inquiry and the Department.

The role can be based in either London or Leeds. There will be a requirement to work on a regular basis at the location of the Inquiry.
The Inquiry is likely to be based in Essex and there will be a requirement for the successful candidate to work out of the agreed location for the Inquiry on a regular basis. During the current Covid-19 pandemic home working will be supported. Some attendance at the relevant office and location for the inquiry (once confirmed), will be a requirement of the role once staff return to office working. The terms and expenses with regards to location will be agreed with the successful candidate in light of final decisions on the base for the Inquiry.


Person Specification

In order to be successful you must demonstrate the following:

• Good knowledge of Civil Service governance and accountability processes covering:
• Information management including information confidentiality;
• Procurement processes;
• Budget management;
• Project planning skills.

• Strong people management skills - the ability to manage a team without support from the Department;

• Strong administrative skills – establishing an office and putting in place processes to manage the inquiry and supporting initial decisions on procedure, including a robust work plan;

• Strong analytical skills -the ability to process data for the chair to inform their decisions and assimilate evidence and findings into a final report;

• Emotional resilience – the ability to deal with sensitive issues and traumatised individuals in a sensitive and professional manner;

• Risk aware – the ability to identify and manage risks.

Desirable Criteria:

• It is strongly desirable that the Secretary has experience of having worked for a previous inquiry.


We'll assess you against these behaviours during the selection process:

  • Managing a Quality Service
  • Leadership
  • Communicating and Influencing
  • Making Effective Decisions
  • Seeing the Big Picture


Whatever your role, we take your career and  development seriously, and want to enable you  to build a really successful career with the  department and wider Civil Service. It is crucial  that our employees have the right skills to  develop their careers and meet the challenges  ahead, and you’ll benefit from regular  performance and development reviews to  ensure this development is ongoing. As a Civil  Service employee, you’ll be entitled to a large  range of benefits.

This includes:

• 25 days annual leave on entry, increasing on a sliding scale to 30 days after 5 years’ service. This is in addition to 8 public holidays;
• one further day paid privilege entitlement to mark the Queen’s Birthday;
• a competitive contributory pension scheme that you can enter as soon as you join where we will make a significant contribution to the cost of your pension; where your contributions come out of your salary before any tax is taken; and where your pension will continue to provide valuable benefits for you and your family if you are too ill to continue to work or die before you retire;
• flexible working patterns including part- time or time-term working and access to Flexible Working Schemes allowing you to vary your working day as long as you work your total hours;
• generous paid maternity and paternity leave which is notably more than the statutory minimum offered by many other employers;
• interest-free loans allowing you to spread the cost of an annual travel season ticket or a new bicycle;
• the opportunity to use onsite facilities including fitness centres and staff canteens (where applicable);
• occupational sick pay.

Apply now!