Government officials have said they will respond to calls for a public inquiry into a troubled mental health trust.
Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust is trying to recover from a series of bad Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections and trouble at the old West Lane Hospital, Middlesbrough. Stockton advisers have been notified of the lawsuit efforts to boost recruitment reduce the use of bank staff and improve the culture of trust during a recent select committee.
But the authority’s adult health and social care select committee agreed to write to Health Secretary Sajid Javid last month after nagging doubts about staff and patient feedback and efforts to improve the culture within the trust. A letter was sent April 5 asking for a public inquiry into the trust’s “continuing failings and lack of material improvement” following a board motion passed in January.
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A copy seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service lists how an independent investigation into death at West Lane Hospital has yet to be released – and also refers to the “inadequate” verdict issued by the CQC when it came to the trust’s secure forensic services in December.
The letter added: “As a select committee, we have listened to senior TEWV representatives on their plans to affect change and recognize that some of these intentions will take time before they can materialize.
“However, we are also aware that a number of the issues identified in the CQC’s latest report are far from new – and (we) are particularly concerned about their suggestions of a ‘toxic culture’ as well as the continued lack of appropriate response to member inquiries regarding staffing.
“As we continue to hold the TEWV to account at the local level, we therefore ask that the government launch a public inquiry to determine the trust’s ability to deliver what remains of crucial services for a significant portion of the local and regional population. .”
Government officials from the Ministry of Health and Social Care confirmed they had received the letter and would respond in due course.
Former TEWV employee Cllr Ray Godwin has been revealed he had whistled on the problems of the forensic services of the trust – grill trusted chefs during a terse committee meeting earlier this year.
In February he said: ‘I have been employed in the forensic services for 28 years – 26 happy years and two years of raising concerns on council at all levels, both as governor and as a staff member.
“I also raised concerns as an advisor, I raised concerns at the CQC and the end result was, in my personal experience, that TEWV didn’t address anything – and that’s clearly evident in the QCC report.”
But Chief Executive Brent Kilmurray told the panel there had been “significant change” with clinical leadership strengthened and an extensive improvement plan.
A March meeting also heard how TEWV was working with the University of Sussex on its online recruitment system to allow people to apply for jobs around the clock. Changes to the trust’s registration system also been reported to help workers get breaks from forensic services.
Mr Kilmurray also told the last Tees Valley Joint Health Review Board that there was “no evidence” to suggest cultural issues were widespread within the trust.
Councilors were also told of work to reorganize the trust into two parts – one covering County Durham and Teesside, and the other looking at North Yorkshire and York in a bid to address concerns over the size of the trust .
Following the Stockton committee’s decision to call for a public inquiry, TEWV director Ann Bridges said they had invited councilors in the review process to visit neighborhoods to “see for themselves -even the changes that have occurred”.
She added: “We have always been clear that there is still a lot of work to be done – some improvements are already in place, but others will take time to come into place.”
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