West Lane Hospital suspended staff 'still working'

West Lane Hospital Image copyright Google
Image caption West Lane is a mental health unit for children and adolescents

Thirteen staff suspended over the alleged ill-treatment of patients at a mental health unit are still working for the trust, the BBC has learned.

The workers at West Lane Hospital in Middlesbrough faced claims they used techniques for moving people that were "not in line with trust policy".

It has now emerged an inquiry has not led to any of them being dismissed.

Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust would not reveal where they now worked but said patient safety was a priority.

It also declined to reveal the outcome of the disciplinary processes for reasons of "individual confidentiality".

The news, uncovered through a BBC Freedom of Information request, has come in the week the Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated the facility as inadequate and said patients were at high risk of "avoidable harm".

'Insulting behaviour'

A spokeswoman for the trust described the suspension of the 13 staff members as "not a decision that we took lightly", but said "the care of young people must be our priority so we believe it was the right action to take".

Responding to the BBC Tees FOI request, the trust said staff could "legitimately expect" the outcome of any internal disciplinary processes would remain confidential.

There were also varying reasons why staff might move to other areas of the trust and there could be a "potential impact on their professional standing... should others conclude, erroneously, that the reason for them doing so was due to the outcome of disciplinary processes".

It also revealed there had been an "increase in insulting and aggressive behaviour, both in person and via social media, suffered by staff over recent months", so there could be a "risk to the safety of any individual staff if it became known that any disciplinary sanctions had been applied to them".

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