West Lane: NHS trust boss accepts responsibility for girls' deaths - but says changes have been made

Brent Kilmurray said he 'absolutely' accepts responsibility for the deaths of Christie, Nadia and Emily. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

The head of a North East NHS trust, which was subject to a damning report finding numerous failings in the care of three girls, has apologised.

Brent Kilmurray, chief executive of the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS trust, told ITV News Tyne Tees he "absolutely" accepts responsibility for the deaths of Christie Harnett, Nadia Sharif and Emily Moore.

The teenagers had all been treated at the trust's West Lane Hospital in Middlesbrough, which has since been closed.

They took their own lives within months of each other in 2019 and 2020.

Nadia, Emily and Christie were all under the care of Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS trust when they ended their lives. Credit: Families

An independent report into their deaths, commissioned by NHS England, revealed 120 failures in their care.

Mr Kilmurray issued what he called a "heartfelt apology" to the families of Christie, Nadia and Emily.

He said: "We've fully accepted the findings of the reports and fully adopted the recommendations."

Mr Kilmurray said a number of steps have been taken to address the issues set out in the reports, including the appointment of 700 staff, an improvement in staff training to make it "compassion focused" and an investment of more than £5million to improve the safety of wards.

Following the publication of the reports, the families of the teenagers have called for Mr Kilmurray's resignation.

However, the chief executive, who took over the role the year after the girls’ deaths in 2019 and 2020, disagrees.

He said: "I have been invited to lead the response to this, to actually further the improvements that we're making.

"That's what I get out of bed for every morning and that's why I think I deserve to be in my role."

Mr Kilmurray confirmed the trust's board had been completely changed, but said that nobody has been dismissed in light of the reports.

He added: "I can understand people's anger. I have to reiterate again just how incredibly sorry I am personally and the trust is for what's happened but I would hope that people would draw confidence from the steps that we have taken.

"You have my commitment that we're making the changes. There's still a lot of work to do and that we are committed to do that."