“I welcome the decision of NHS England and Improvement to restore mental health services for children and adolescents at West Lane Hospital in Middlesbrough.

I also fully support the agreement with the Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Trust to run the restored in-patient service given the very serious concerns about the previous management by the Tees Esk & Wear Valley NHS Trust under whose stewardship two young women inpatients at West Lane tragically lost their lives.

What I am bitterly disappointed about is just how long it has taken to get to this decision. I met with the Health Secretary Matt Hancock earlier this year to bring these matters to his attention and whilst this new arrangement has been under discussion for many months, the confirming decision only comes now.

It’s not acceptable that it has taken so long to get to this point and worse still, the replacement service won’t be up and running until early 2021. Our community has been without a vital in-patient health service for far too long and I can only hope these new arrangements will be implemented smoothly and we get the service restored at the earliest possible opportunity.

The response to these tragedies has been woefully slow on all fronts. There have been far too many delays running through a number of agencies involved in getting to a full and independent inquiry and the answers that the families need.

The independent inquiry that NHS England has commissioned Niche Consulting to do, is still to fully start. I am continually pressing all those public bodies involved, to get on with what they have to do, let the inquiry get established and let those families understand how it was that their loved ones in the care of health services met their deaths. They need answers and these continuing delays are simply unacceptable.

I will continue to press the various public bodies involved and stress the importance and urgency of this situation and encourage them to give these terrible and tragic matters the attention they deserve and with much greater urgency.”

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