Government apologises after deaths of three teenagers under care of NHS trust

An independent report found 120 failures in the care of Nadia Sharif, Emily Moore and Christie Harnett. Credit: Family

The Government has apologised and is considering a public inquiry after three teenage girls died following “multifaceted and systemic” failures in NHS mental health care.

Health minister Maria Caulfield said the independent investigation into the deaths of Christie Harnett, 17, Nadia Sharif, 17 and Emily Moore, 18, made for “painful reading” and described the incidents as “completely unacceptable”.

The report, released on Wednesday 2 November, found 120 failings in the care of Christie Harnett, 17, Nadia Sharif, 17, and Emily Moore, 18, who took their own lives.

They were all being treated by Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys trust and had been patients at West Lane Hospital in Middlesbrough.

Health minister Maria Caulfield, responding to an urgent question, told MPs: “The findings from the investigation into the deaths of Christie, Nadia and Emily make for painful reading and the death of any young person is a tragedy, and all the more so when that young person should have been receiving care and support.

“My thoughts and I’m sure the thoughts of this whole House are with their families and friends, and I want to apologise for the failings in the care that they received.”

Conservative MP for Sedgefield, Paul Howell, spoke in the House of Commons:

Speaking in the House of Commons, Sedgefield MP Paul Howell said he strongly supports Christie's family, who live in his constituency, and their calls for a public inquiry.

He read out testimony from her family: "It is emotional this, but Christie’s family in their statement in the report, their description of Christie was that ‘family was everything to Christie and we all miss her so much, nothing will ever be the same again now that our sunshine has gone'."

Mr Howell added: "It is imperative that we do all that we can to give the families of these young ladies what little satisfaction can be delivered by a proper and full inquiry into these atrocious failings."

Health minister Maria Caulfield told MPs she will examine calls for a public inquiry amid concerns over inpatient mental health services.

She said: "In terms of a public inquiry I haven’t said no at this stage, but we do need to urgently address those issues and make sure that nationally the same failings aren’t happening across the board.

"My concern about a public inquiry is the time that these inquiries take and whether a rapid review would be more appropriate. I will make that decision in the coming days once advice has been taken."

Ministers will make a decision "in the coming days" on whether a full public inquiry or a "rapid review" should be carried out into the failings.