Calls for an inquiry into a scandal-hit North East mental health trust have intensified as families came together to protest outside of a hospital plagued by "preventable deaths".

Around 30 people turned out to Lanchester Road Hospital for a demonstration calling for a public inquiry into care at Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV) yesterday (Tuesday, October 10).

It follows a period of intense scrutiny for TEWV. Only last month, the trust pled guilty in connection to the deaths of two of their patients, Christie Harnett and Patient X.

Read more: TEWV Trust pleads guilty in connection to patient deaths

The Northern Echo: Protesters outside of Lanchester Road hospital, Durham

On the same day, the trust pled not guilty concerning the death of Emily Moore, 18, who was found dead at Lanchester Road Hospital in February 2021, just a week after moving from child and adolescent mental health care services to adult services.

Emily’s case is set to go to trial in February next year.

The demonstration was organised by Emily’s father, David, who has been protesting for better care at TEWV since 2020.

Speaking from the front lines of the protest, David said: “I’ve been back here before for protests, but it never gets any easier.

“We shouldn’t be this far down the line and still be protesting, but something needs to be done. TEWV just hasn’t changed in the six years that we’ve been doing this.

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“I know that there aren’t enough nurses or beds anywhere but there are real problems with this Trust that need addressing. There are still people working here that shouldn’t be. The only way to get change is a full public inquiry and new leadership.”

Emily’s father David has been protesting care at Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys Hospital Trust since 2019, when he took to West Lane Hospital with a banner spread over his car saying: “This hospital is slowly killing my daughter.”

A spokesperson for TEWV said there have been “significant improvements” to the care offered by the Trust, and they have accepted that “there is still more to do”.

Ruth Lord, 39, also turned out to the protest. A former patient at Lanchester Road Hospital, she found it “incredibly difficult to be back” but wanted to show support for Emily’s family.

“This should never have been able to happen, she should never have been able to take her own life. TEWV ruined Emily’s life, and they ruined mine, and that’s something they can never give back. It’s a tragedy.”

Demi Robinson, a friend of Emily Moore and Christie Harnett, said: “It should never have got to this point. Concerns are just not being listened to – no one is listening to us.”

An open letter, written by Roger Tuckett, and signed by former patients, and family and friends, asked TEWV for "an immediate full, thorough and independent external investigation" into their care. 

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A spokesperson at the Trust, said: “Our deepest sympathies remain with the families who have lost loved ones.

“While we have made significant improvements, we fully accept that there is still more to do.

“Decisions on public inquiries are made by the government.  We have co-operated fully with all inquiries to date and will, of course, do so in the future.”