The chief executive of a clutch of clinical commissioning groups, including one in north east Essex, has said he will give his full backing to a public inquiry into the deaths of 1,500 people.

It comes after the Essex Mental Health Independent Inquiry was established in April last year to investigate the deaths of 1,500 patients who were in the care of mental health services in Essex.

Dr Ed Garratt, who was present at a north east Essex CCG governing board meeting on Tuesday, added his thoughts were with the families of those who died.

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He said: “We will have seen in the national press the public enquiry into the deaths of people who had been cared for by our mental health trust in Essex over the past 20 years.

“We of course will absolutely support that enquiry as it develops and all of our thoughts are with all of the families who have affected over that period of time.”

Evidence started being taken in December last year as the inquiry, which is independent of the government and healthcare system, continues under the leadership of Dr Geraldine Strathdee.

Dr Strathdee appealed earlier this month to the families of those who died to come forward.