This week the Care Quality Commission (CQC) published a Service Report on Children and Young People’s services at Tees Esk Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust’s West Lane, West Park and Roseberry Park Hospitals. This report was based on an inspection that took place in June 2019. The CQC report is available here.

This was a responsive inspection and took place as a result of concerns raised with the CQC about the care and treatment of patients. The concerns included high levels of self-harm, the safety of patients, low staffing levels and a poor culture on the wards at West Lane Hospital.

The report highlights several serious concerns, including staff shortages resulting in the wards not being properly managed and a lack of risk assessment and management meaning that patients were not safe and were at high risk of avoidable harm. Blanket restrictions were in place that were not based on an individual assessment of patient risk and need, and there had at times been a lack of appropriate response to incidents of self-harm.

The Children and Young People’s Services were rated “Inadequate” overall for safe, responsive and well-led services, and “Requires Improvement” for caring and effective services. On the basis of the concerns found during this inspection, the CQC took immediate enforcement action.

It is clear that there are continuing significant concerns with this service, which have resulted in serious failures of care that raise human rights concerns. Most notably, since June, the two young women have lost their life, a right which all NHS services have a legal duty to protect (Art 2, HRA). The Trust must take urgent action and ensure that health services are a place of safety for young people (and all people), where human rights will be respected and protected.

BIHR is currently working with Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust through a project funded by the Health Foundation's programme to support improvements in staff approaches. The project is developing staff, management and patient tools that will support a human rights focus to decision-making in mental health services. The Trust initially identified the Children and Young People’s Service at West Lane Hospital as one of the pilot services for this project. However it became clear that there were significant concerns about the service which the Trust has to address as a priority. This requires urgent action beyond the scope and purpose of this project; project work with the Service was halted. The project is working with Stockton’s Psychosis and Early Intervention Team alongside the Mental Health Services for Older People's team in Hartlepool.