THE leading governor of a troubled mental health trust has “refuted” and “repudiated” claims made by a watchdog member following calls for a Government inquiry.
The Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV) was told to make urgent improvements following Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections last year.
Stockton Borough Council’s adult social care and health select committee wrote to Health Secretary Sajid Javid in April requesting a public inquiry into the “continued failings and lack of notable improvement” of the trust.
Stockton councillor Lynn Hall, a member of the Tees Valley joint health scrutiny committee, spoke of the request in a meeting at Roseberry Park Hospital in Middlesbrough.
She said: “In my opinion, Stockton Borough Council had no option other than to write to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, the Rt Hon Sajid Javid, requesting a public inquiry.
“And it was in fact a cross-party decision of that council.
“I did criticise the lead governor of TEWV as I see the overriding role of the council of governors is to hold the non-executive directors to account and represent the interests of the NHS foundation trust members and the public.
“As far as I am aware, they have not seen fit to raise concerns.
“I welcome the visit to Roseberry Park at the very first opportunity today, and I have no regrets about requesting the Government to take action.”
Read more: Government will respond to calls for inquiry into TEWV mental health trust
Lead governor Ann McCoy, also a Stockton councillor, replied: “I can absolutely reassure this committee that the council of governors have questioned after presentations, asked for evidence of what is going on, what was happening, how the trust were working towards the problems that they had.”
She said she spoke to members of staff informally at a event and reported back to the governors.
She added: “Everyone I spoke to said things are improving with the increasing staff levels.
“Morale is improving. There is less pressure… because of the improved staff levels, also because they feel the commitment of the trust to implement improvements.
“They said they felt disheartened by the publicity because they feel that people outside the trust do not understand or appreciate how hard the staff are working to help the trust to improve.
“And they are committed to improve and deliver the best service for those who need mental health services.
Read more: Calls for public inquiry into mental health trust after ’20 deaths’
“We had a special meeting to how we hold NEDs (non-executive directors) to account, and we’re going to have that again to update that.
“So I just really repudiate everything that was said about the council of governors.”
She later added: “Governors have been consulted, informed, right from the beginning.
“On our council of governors, it’s made up of service users, carers, staff, people who are passionate about mental health who have been elected by members. It’s really representative of people.
“I refute what was said at the beginning of this meeting.”
Read more: Teesside NHS trust shakes up its management
Ann Bridges, the trust’s executive director of corporate affairs and involvement, detailed new appointments aimed at “bringing a different lens to what we do and using their lived experience in a really positive way”.
She said: “Of course we were disappointed that the letter did go in to the Secretary of State in terms of the public inquiry.
“We’ll hopefully provide you with the reassurance that you all need.”
Darlington councillor Mary Layton, chairing the meeting, later described the committee as a “criticial friend”.
She said: “We’re not here to be shocked and to criticise. We’re actually here to understand and help.
“But we want to hear the difficult information as well. We need to hear that so we can understand how we can help and how we can lobby for you.”
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