Shocking evidence around the treatment of vulnerable patients and attitudes towards self-harm incidents has been exposed after the deaths of three girls. 

A new report into the mental health provision provided by Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Trust (TEWV) at West Lane Hospital in Middlesbrough has been released following an independent investigation. 

It follows the deaths of Christie Harnett, Nadia Sharif and Emily Moore between 2019-2020 who all stayed at the Teesside facility before their deaths. 

Young people interviewed by inspectors said they felt the environment facilitated self-harm, while staff were accused of being intentionally negative and bullying. One girl gave a damning response when asked about staff attitudes around self-harm at the hospital.

She said: “I was called a maniac, a stupid little girl – lots of comments like that. I was told, if you really wanted to kill yourself, you would be dead by now.”

Read more: Teenagers died after 'appalling' care at Durham and Middlesbrough hospitals​

Patients and families told inspectors that they were not safe under the trust’s care and criticised a lack of leadership among staff, with staff compared to characters out of the novel Lord of the Flies.  

The Northern Echo: The hospital closed in 2019 but has since reopened under the new name Acklam Road The hospital closed in 2019 but has since reopened under the new name Acklam Road (Image: The Northern Echo)

In an interview with inspectors, one parent said: “West Lane made me feel like the s****iest mother about. I just used to sob, and sob, and sob, and sob. I was thinking, they are going to take her away from me, they are going to make up something.” 

Other people told of feeling powerless while staying at West Lane, with one claiming they were made to feel like they were “a waste of a bed”. Another said they would be restrained by men while “completely naked”. 

And in one response regarding the support at the hospital, another person said: “I would have to wait for staff to take me to the toilet but they never came; it led to me having to go to the toilet on a towel and a bucket.”

An alleged lack of staff was highlighted by several interviewees as one reason for the issues at West Lane.

One response read: “There was never enough staff; there was constant agency staff on my observations who didn't know what they were doing. I was left with nobody that I knew.”

However, some staff were praised for their work with inpatients and the rest of the team. 

“Some were helpful and would try to sit with you but the majority would just leave you to it in the room,” one interviewee said. “They wouldn't do anything about it most of the time. They would either walk off and say, ‘You need to stop doing this’ and leave and not come back for an hour or two.” 

“The dietician was really good, and the psychologist was excellent. Without those two, I don’t know what we’d have done, really.” 

Read more: The failures that led to death of three girls at Durham and Middlesbrough hospitals

The new findings have led to the local MP Andy McDonald to call for an independent inquiry into the trust. 

The Northern Echo: Left to right: Nadia Sharif, Emily Moore and Christie Harnett Left to right: Nadia Sharif, Emily Moore and Christie Harnett (Image: The Northern Echo)

In response to the report, David Jennings, chair of Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We would like to reiterate how deeply sorry we are for the events that contributed to the deaths of Christie, Nadia and Emily. 

“Brent Kilmurray, our chief executive, and I have met each of the young women’s families to apologise to them in person. I thank them for allowing us to do that. I cannot begin to imagine how painful it has been for them. 

“This report covers a period of time where it was abundantly clear there were shortfalls in both care and leadership. Over the last three years, how we care for people, how we involve patients, families and carers, and our leadership and governance structure have changed significantly.

“We will continue to work hard to make sure we deliver safe and kind care to the people we support, as they have every right to expect.”