Stepfather of Christie Harnett arrives at Downing Street to call for inquiry into TEWV health trust

Michael Harnett has cycled to Downing Street to call for a public inquiry into the NHS trust that cared for his stepdaughter. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

The stepfather of a County Durham teenager who died at a mental health hospital has arrived at Downing Street, after cycling there to call for a public inquiry into the trust which was caring for her.

Michael Harnett, from Newton Aycliffe, arrived at Downing Street at 1pm today (7 October) and delivered letters to the Government, calling for an inquiry into Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust (TEWV).

His step daughter Christie was one of two teenagers to take her own life at the trust's West Lane hospital in Middlesbrough in 2019.

Mr Harnett said: “It is something I never thought I would do. It was very emotional.

"Even if a small thing is changed, it means that it has been worth it.

He added: "But a public inquiry would be absolutely amazing."

Michael Harnett set off from his home in Newton Aycliffe on Tuesday. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

Mr Harnett was joined by other members of Christie's family, including her grandmother, Casey Tremain.

Ms Tremain said: “This is the culmination of a lot of time and getting people to write letters but we have done it. We have handed it in and hopefully the government will read it. 

“I am proud of them and I am proud that they came. I really hope that they take notice of what we have written."

Christie Harnett's family outside Downing Street today (7 October). Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

Christie died at West Lane in June 2019. The trust is now being prosecuted by the Care Quality Commission.

Following Christie's death inspectors shut the hospital down. It has since reopened under a new name and it is run by a different trust.

However, this week brought new concerns as a service run by the trust for people with learning disabilities and autism in Durham and Middlesbrough was downgraded from good to inadequate inspectors.

A spokesperson from the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Every death in an inpatient unit is a tragedy and our thoughts are with the families affected.

“NHS England launched a system-wide independent investigation in 2019 in response to concerns and issues related to patient safety and the quality of care – they will publish the report at the end of this year.

They added: “Patient safety remains our top priority and it is vitally important we learn from any mistakes made to benefit care across the wider NHS and protect patients in the future.”

You can watch Katie Cole's report here: