Concern was raised after representatives from an under-fire NHS Trust missed a meeting to scrutinise its annual report.

The People Scrutiny Panel of Middlesbrough Council was due to hear presentations from both South Tees and Tees Esk and Wear Valley (TEWV) NHS Trusts regarding their draft reports, known as Quality Accounts.

Three representatives from the South Tees Trust presented their report and fielded questions however no one from the mental health trust was in attendance.

Cllr Morgan McClintock, who sits on the panel, told the meeting: “I am very concerned that no representatives have appeared today given that the other trust [South Tees NHS Trust] sent three to four people.”

He said his concerns about the TEWV report were “much more serious” than those relating to the South Tees report.

A council officer explained there had been “a scheduling conflict at the last minute” and the situation had been “unavoidable”.

Chair of the panel, Cllr Edward Clynch, said: “As we’re only one part of checking these quality accounts hopefully, as that whole process goes along, those questions will be asked.”

In response, Cllr McClintock said: “I don’t really have questions… I have fundamental concerns about the whole nature of the report of a completely different order from the one that we’ve just had.” The meeting was told members of the panel could email comments to the council officer and they would send them to the trust for a response.

Cllr McClintock said: “The problem is I may have concerns that are not shared by any other member of the committee.

"The whole point of the meeting together is to achieve a corporate balance and I may say things which could be regarded as inappropriate or ill-informed whereas my colleagues here could help with that so I’m disappointed that we’re in this situation.”

The scrutiny panel at the council is a statutory consultee on consultations held by local NHS services and can make recommendations concerning health service provision.

In the agenda for the meeting, which was published in advance and contained the date and time of the meeting, it was stated that representatives of TEWV NHS Foundation Trust would be in attendance to present the draft annual report.

A spokesperson for the Trust, said: “The Quality Account is a statutory report we produce each year looking back at the important work we delivered with our communities. 

"We work closely with patients, carers and partners on the report which sets out our quality priorities and further improvements we will make in the coming year.

"We value their contribution, and we offer a range of ways to provide feedback on our Quality Account.”

The report outlines changes made and proposed by the trust and includes the results of staff and patient surveys.

Just over half (55 per cent) of staff surveyed said they would be happy having a friend or relative using the mental health service compared to a national average of 62 per cent.

Proposed improvements for the coming year include the introduction of a patient safety incident response framework aimed at learning from incidents and the implementation of new technology to improve patient safety on wards.

The report also included an apology relating to failings in the care of two teenage girls who died in 2019 and 2020.

In a Quality Account statement, chief executive, Brent Kilmurray apologised for the trust’s failing in the care and treatment of those patients, adding: “They deserved better.

"We are deeply sorry for the events that led to these tragedies and our thoughts are with their families.”

He went on to say: “We are now a very different organisation, one that takes responsibility and is moving forwards.

The CQC acknowledged this in our latest inspection and that noticeable improvements have been made.

Campaigners and families of those whose relatives have died while in the care of the trust have called for a statutory public inquiry.

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Andy McDonald, who is standing as Labour’s candidate for Middlesbrough and Thornaby East, is among those backing the calls.

He said: “It is disappointing that the trust did not have any representation at this week’s Middlesbrough Council scrutiny meeting.

"The families who have lost loved ones want, demand and deserve three things: truth, justice and change.

“We need a full and open public inquiry to get to the bottom of what has happened in these tragic cases but also into the wider issue of mental health care for our young people.

"We will not secure the changes we need in the provision of mental health service for our young people until such times as we have a forensic and wide-ranging analysis of not only the lessons to be learned from these awful deaths but what an appropriate and safe system of mental health care looks like.”