On hearing of a second death at West Lane Mental Health Hospital Andy McDonald, Middlesbrough MP said:
“It is staggering and of major concern that there should be a second death at West Lane coming so soon after the death of Christie Harnett.
My heart goes out to the family of the deceased. This will undoubtedly be heartbreaking for them and no doubt further details will emerge. It is impossible to comprehend their grief. However, in the meantime, very serious questions need to be answered by the Trust and by the Care Quality Commission. It was only a few short months ago that several members of staff were suspended following concerns over working practices and additional resources were then allocated. Despite those measures, a young woman tragically lost her life and yet further additional measures were increased and yet all of those such measures failed to prevent a second tragedy. Quite clearly staff do not turn up to work to perform badly, and they will be bereft, but it seems to me at this stage that there has been a systemic failure of leadership, oversight and process. What on earth has happened in terms of training, instruction, monitoring and supervision?
I fully understand that other families of current patients will be desperately worried about the safety of their loved ones and I know this will be hugely difficult for the staff themselves. There will be calls to close this hospital but we need to know more about what alternative facilities might be available. As I understand it, there is a distinct lack of appropriate placements for patients with such complex needs, so closure may not be a viable option.
I also fully recognise that the Hospital is charged with treating young people with incredibly complex and difficult conditions, but I do wonder about the wisdom of accommodating significant numbers of patients in one place. I would urge the trust and the CQC to consider whether this is an appropriate way to treat patients in the future. Clearly a number of formal inquiries are now underway, but the authorities do need to spell out publicly as a matter of supreme urgency what additional measures are being put in place now to safeguard the patients at West Lane.”