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Trial for Mental Health Trust Over Three Patient Deaths Paused

The trial of an under-fire mental health trust that is being prosecuted over the deaths of three people in its care was paused on its first day. The judge granted a request from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the Tees, Esk, and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV) to adjourn the trial for now. 

The CQC is prosecuting the trust for alleged breaches of the Health and Social Care Act, relating to healthcare providers' responsibility to ensure people receive safe care and treatment.

"Both the CQC and the Trust agreed that the hearing should be adjourned to obtain additional evidence, and this was granted by the judge," a spokesperson for the TEWV explained.

Two Patients Took Their Own Lives

CQC brought the prosecution following the deaths of three people while receiving care from Tees, Esk, and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust between 2019 and 2020.

Two of the patients have been named in the media, a 17-year-old girl who took her own life at West Lane Hospital in 2019, and an 18-year-old woman who took her own life at Lanchester Road Hospital in Durham in February 2020. The third patient has not been identified.

The Trust was rated inadequate and West Lane Hospital was shut down in August 2019 by inspectors, who said patients were "not safe or being provided with care in line with their needs".

NHS England commissioned three independent investigations of the Trust, with one reporting last November that it found 120 failings in the care of three teenage women who died within months 8 months of each other.

In 2021, CQC issued the trust a section 29A warning notice to urgently address safety issues, after an inspection of five of the trust’s acute wards and psychiatric intensive care unit service found concerns that urgently needed addressing. Follow-on inspections did find improvements were made and the trust continues to be monitored.

A spokesperson for Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust said they had fully cooperated with the CQC's investigation and "continue to work closely with them". 

"We don't underestimate the impact that these proceedings have on those involved, and we're deeply sorry for the pain and distress this has caused."