IT feels that our health services have become so big and so distant from the ordinary people – their patients – that it is increasingly difficult to hold them to account.

Two days ago in this space, we were addressing the independent report into failings at the North East Ambulance Service, a report that left the families caught up in the failings deeply unhappy and which, due to its narrow remit, failed to address the full allegations that have featured in the national press.

Now we turn to the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys mental health trust. Three deaths of its patients between June 2019 and February 2020 led to a damning independent report. By the time the report was published, there had been a clear-out of management with the new regime embarking on a self-proclaimed “journey to change”, but the trust is still being prosecuted by the Care Quality Commission.

Then in 2021, there were four deaths that led to an internal “thematic review”, but now we learn there have been 41 deaths.

No independent person offers an evaluation of this; no one independent sees the pattern of concern dating back to 2019, and no one independent works out whether the action points raised by the “thematic review” had any bearing on the subsequent deaths.

Little wonder the families want a public inquiry to discover the answers, an inquiry that looks increasingly necessary if the public are going to regain trust in a body which is charged with looking after the most vulnerable of people in times of desperate crisis.