Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust on trial after death of inpatient Emily Moore who took her life

Emily Moore, from Shildon, in County Durham, took her own life in February 2020, at Lanchester Road hospital in Durham. Credit: Family handout

A North East mental health trust is on trial following the death an 18-year-old who died as an inpatient at one of its hospitals.

Emily Moore, from Shildon, in County Durham, took her own life in February 2020, at Lanchester Road Hospital, in Durham.

On Monday 26 February, the Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust which runs the hospital went on trial at Teesside Magistrates Court.

Emily, who had a history of self-harming, had been a patient there for eight days when she was found unresponsive on her bathroom floor. She died two days later in hospital.

Emily Moore took her own life days after her 18th birthday. Credit: Family handout

The trust is being prosecuted by the health regulator the Care Quality Commission and the case will be decided by a district judge.

The CQC alleges the trust breached the Health and Social Care Act in that it failed to provide safe care and treatment, exposing Emily to a significant risk of avoidable harm.

Outlining the prosecution, Jason Pitter KC said that elements of care provided to Emily were unsafe.

He said her care plan was "inadequate" and did not specifically guide staff on how to care for Emily.

He told the court if those plans had been in place, the incident which resulted in Emily's death may not have happened.

The court heard Emily Moore had a history of self-harming. Credit: Family handout

He added: “The intervention plan that was in place was of poor quality and did not mention any of the specific risk she presented to herself, including ligature risk, and there was no guidance for staff for how to manage those risks.

“Insufficient steps were taken by the trust to ensure that staff were aware of ligature points.

"The plan was lacking in significant guidance."

The trust's chief executive, Brent Kilmurray, was in court. The trust denies the allegations and claims the care plans for Emily were of a reasonable standard and her risks were well understood.

The court was told an expert witness will address the court on Tuesday and will say the plans in place for Emily were thoughtful, personalised and appropriate and no elements of these plans rendered her care unsafe.

The CQC alleges the Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust failed to provide safe care and treatment to Emily Moore. Credit: Family handout

Defence barrister Paul Greaney KC also said the prosecution's focus on a care plan represents an artificial and unbalanced approach to the issue of the safety of Emily’s care and treatment.

He said: “Nursing staff were well aware of the need to identify self-harming behaviours.

“The risks to Emily were well understood. The position of the trust is that it [the care plan] was clear and appropriate.

“We understand how difficult this trial must be for those close to Emily. We hope it will be helpful for you [the judge] and the public and the family to understand the trust’s case.”

The Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust have never been prosecuted before. They are charged with three breaches of the Health and Social Care Act.

One relates to Emily Moore, which is denied and is the reason the trust is on trial. The trust has pleaded guilty to the other two charges. The trust will be sentenced next month for those.

Another relates to the death of 17-year-old Christie Harnett, who took her own life at West Lane Hospital, in Middlesbrough, in 2019. The other relates to the death of a woman who died at Roseberry Park, in Middlesbrough, in 2020 and whose identity is being protected by the court.

The trial at Teesside Magistrates Court continues.

Are you or someone you know struggling with your mental health?

Find advice and support for children and young people here:

Where children can find mental health help in the North East and North Yorkshire

Find general advice and support for anyone struggling with their mental health here:

Mental health: Where to find help in the North East if you are struggling

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