The boss of a troubled mental health trust says more work needs to be done to improve - but it is moving forward in the right direction. 

Tees, Esk and Wear Valley (TEWV) NHS Trust was rated Requires Improvement by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in October 2023, with particular concerns raised over safety, response times and leadership. 

Inspections were carried out from April to June last year following concerns regarding the quality of care being provided to people after serious incidents which had occurred in some services. 

The CQC also reviewed the progress of services following a previous inspection, when some sectors were rated inadequate. 

Both the effectiveness and caring categories were rated Good, however, as well as improvements across some sectors to improve the overall rating. And while the trust still requires improvement overall, officials are positive about the future. 

Speaking to councillors at Durham County Hall this week Brent Kilmurray, TEWV Chief Executive, said improvements have been made since the CQC report was published in October. 

He said: “We still have lots of work to do, but we are moving forward with our improvement work and achieving a more consistent approach to the delivery of high quality care across different services.

“I am confident that we have done the foundation work to ensure the improvement plan that we have got can be delivered, and we are already seeing some progress with that. We recognise there is a lot of work still to do, and there are some bumpy roads ahead with other things around us. But we are on track and moving forward.”

The inspection came after the trust pleaded guilty to failing to provide safe care and treatment for two patients who died in its care. Christie Harnett, 17, from Newton Aycliffe and an unnamed patient took their own lives in trust-run hospitals on Teesside. TEWV will also stand trial over the death of 18-year-old Emily Moore, from Shildon, who died in Lanchester Road Hospital, near Durham.

The Northern Echo: Emily Moore (top) and Christie Harnett both died while under the care of TEWV NHS TrustEmily Moore (top) and Christie Harnett both died while under the care of TEWV NHS Trust (Image: The Northern Echo)

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Bereaved families and former patients have campaigned for a public inquiry into the trust's actions but have so far been unsuccessful. 

When asked whether staff are confident the improvements can be maintained, Beverly Murphy, chief nurse, said: “Although the overall rating has not changed, the consistency of care that we are delivering across the specialist services has improved. 

“I can assure we have got really good people and strong mechanisms for checking and testing that on any day, and we have got a culture that means people are not frightened to talk up and say ‘we need to do something about this’.”