A hospital trust has admitted they contributed to the deaths of two of their vulnerable patients at a court hearing.

Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust (TEWV) failed to provide safe care and treatment to Christie Harnett, 17, and a young woman, referred to as Patient X for legal reasons, between 2019 and 2020, in separate incidents in separate hospitals.

The Trust’s breach of the Health and Social Care Act resulted in “avoidable harm or loss”.

TEWV pleaded not guilty to a third case, regarding the 2020 death of 18-year-old Emily Moore, which is set to go to trial next year.

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All three patients had received treatment at TEWV's hospitals since 2019.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) brought charges, alleging that TEWV’s “failure to provide safe care” contributed to the deaths of Christie (referred to as Christie Brayley in court documents), Emily Moore, and Patient X.

Michael Harnett paid tribute to his stepdaughter following the guilty plea, saying: “She was such a big part of our lives. Christie was just so willing to help anyone, even on the wards, she'd be helping people. 

“There has sort of been closure today – but what makes it worse is that they have admitted that Christie’s death was their fault, that it was preventable and shouldn’t have happened.”

Casey Tremain, Christie’s grandmother, added: “We're glad that they have pleaded guilty to this, but there are still a lot of mixed feelings.”

Christie’s family have renewed their calls for a full public inquiry into the trust.

Mr Harnett said: “We have said from day one that there should be a public inquiry and we will keep saying that after today – if the trust just pays a fine for Christie's death, and Patient X's, it is just not accountability.”

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Alistair Smith, a lawyer representing the family, added: “It is apparent that when there are guilty pleas in two separate cases in two separate hospitals, 18 months apart, there is a need for an inquiry.”

Both teenagers had complex mental health needs and had been treated as inpatients at West Lane Hospital, in Middlesbrough.

Christie, of Newton Aycliffe, had been receiving treatment at West Lane Hospital in Middlesbrough when she completed suicide on June 27, 2019.

Emily, from Shildon, had been an inpatient at the same hospital until July 2019, before moving to Lanchester Road, Durham in February 2020. She took her own life one week later. 

Patient X, a young woman, was treated at Roseberry Park Hospital, in Middlesbrough, and the trust allegedly failed to provide treatment safely, resulting in avoidable harm.

Charges relating to Emily Moore are set to be heard in a trial, starting on February 26, next year.

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A CQC report, published in March of this year, found that there were serious failings in the care given to three teenage patients – including Christie Harnett and Emily Moore – was “chaotic and unsafe” before their deaths between June 2019 and February 2020.

Christie, a talented artist who loved to sing and dance, had complex mental health needs and an eating disorder. She had previously made several attempts to take her own life, a CQC report published in November 2022 said.