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'Inadequate' West Lane mental health unit in Middlesbrough ordered to close

'Inadequate' West Lane mental health unit in Middlesbrough closed by authorities Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

The West Lane mental health unit in Middlesbrough, where two teenagers died, has been forced to close after it was rated 'inadequate' by the Care Quality Commission.

The hospital cares for young people with mental health issues including eating disorders.

The CQC told us they are working to arrange 'appropriate alternative care' for 12 young people, aged from possibly as young as 12 up to the age of 18.

Here are the details we have so far:

  • In November 2018, concerns were raised about the way patients were handled and 17 staff members were suspended
  • In June 2019, Christie Harnett, 17, from Newton Aycliffe was found dead in a bathroom
  • Later that month, a temporary ban was put in place to stop further admissions there
  • In August 2019, a second patient, Nadia Sharif, 17, was found injured and later died
Christie Harnett, 17, died in June 2019 Credit: Family photo
Nadia Sharif, 17, died earlier this month Credit: Family photo

In a statement, the CQC said:

CQC has taken urgent enforcement action at Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust which will lead to the closure of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service units at West Lane Hospital. The Holly unit at West Park Hospital and Baysdale Unit at Roseberry Park are unaffected. The action follows continued concerns identified at earlier inspections in June and August, and the recent inspection on 20 and 21 August 2019.

Inspectors are currently working closely with the trust and NHS England who are arranging appropriate alternative care and support for the young people affected, in a safe and timely manner.

CQC’s priority is always the safety and well-being of people using services and has taken this action to ensure they are protected and kept safe from avoidable harm. The report from the most recent inspection in August will be published in due course. Any action taken by CQC is open to appeal by the provider.

– Care Quality Commission

Head of Inspection at the Care Quality Commission, Karen Bennett-Wilson, said the unit did not make the recommended changes.

This is a catastrophic failure by the Trust.

– Andy McDonald MP

The MP for Middlesbrough, Andy McDonald spoke to ITV News about the closure and said he would continue to support the families involved.

In an unrelated CQC inspection, ITV News has learnt that Cygnet Chesterholme in Hexham, which is an independent hospital caring for people with learning disabilities and autism - has also been rated 'inadequate' after their latest inspection.

It comes after a BBC Panorama programme raised serious allegations of abuse against patients at Cygnet Wharlton Hall, in May this year.

The unit has been put into special measures after concerns were raised following the report that staff turnover was at 45%, with a high number of staff who were unqualified or untrained and 'no explanation' for 27 serious incidents.

However, the report did say that the hospital was clean and most patients experience of staff was positive, with the hospital receiving a good rating for its care.

Cygnet Chesterholme in Hexham Cygnet Chesterholme in Hexham has also been rated below standard Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

We contacted Cygnet Healthcare for a statement:

Following the CQC's inspection in May, we took immediate and significant steps to address the issues raised, though we were heartened that the CQC rated the caring and responsive aspects of our service as good and noted positive staff interactions.

The safety and wellbeing of the people who use our services is of paramount importance. We remain committed to acting upon the report's recommendations

– Cygnet healthcare

The unit will be re-inspected in six months time.