“Following the two tragic deaths of patients at West Lane Children and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) Hospital in 2019 and its subsequent closure, I continue to engage with the families, the staff the Trust (Tees Esk and Wear Valleys- TEWV) and NHS England about the investigations the necessary inquiries that need to take place and the lessons to be learned.

The immediate focus is on progressing the investigation of NHS England and I have been working with NHS England to ensure that the Inquiry they commission is fully independent of the Trust and that the families, staff and other interested parties are fully consulted on the terms of reference of that inquiry and on the composition of the tribunal.

I am also in discussions with NHS England about the continuing absence of vitally important in-patients CAMHS facilities. Clearly if some our young people fall ill there is currently no replacement local facility but nevertheless great care has to be taken to ensure the restoration of services is done in a way that patients, their families and the staff have confidence that patients will be properly treated and looked after. That is not a quick or straightforward process and I am continuing to work with NHS England to try and bring about a restored service as soon as possible.

This unhappy saga raises some very important questions not only about the adequacy of mental health provision more generally, but also the underlying causes that appear to have brought about such a rise in the numbers of young people presenting with such illnesses. I am sure that these and other inquiries will want to consider those wider issues but, in the meantime, knowing and understanding what went wrong at West Lane and putting together a safe mental health facility for our young people has to be the priority.”

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