THERE are investigations on-going into deaths of patients in the care of the Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, which looks after patients with mental health issues.

A local Labour MP, Andy McDonald of Middlesbrough, knows of 14 deaths in two years; a solicitor, Alistair Smith, believes there may have been 20 or more in three years.

Behind every one of those numbers is a person, and a grieving family.

The trust has an extremely difficult job to do. It is looking after the most vulnerable young people in society.

However, the families of those who died do deserve explanations and answers, and, with the mental health of young people becoming an increasing concern due to the pressures of the Covid pandemic, it is absolutely vital that the wider public have trust in these vital services.

Pressure is growing for there to be a public inquiry.

For the families, there must be huge frustration because the wheels of the establishment seem to turn so slowly without moving forward. It is therefore imperative that these on-going enquiries are finished with the utmost speed so that their findings can be evaluated. It may well then be necessary for there to be a full and open inquiry to pull all the strands together and prove to the public that lessons really have been learned and future patients will receive better treatment.