SEVERAL members of staff have been suspended at a mental health hospital that cares for children and adolescents, The Northern Echo can reveal.

An on-going investigation at Middlesbrough’s West Lane Hospital has resulted in several members of staff being temporarily removed from their duties.

In November, concerns were raised about care provided at the facility’s low security Westwood Centre, which houses youngsters with specific mental health needs, physical disabilities and young offenders who require mental health assessment and intervention.

The Tees Esk and Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, is investigating claims that staff had used non-approved techniques to move patients, with 17 people – nurses and health care assistants – subsequently suspended.

Additional staff have been temporarily assigned to the Westwood Centre while the investigation is underway and the “precautionary suspensions” are in place, with measures implemented to ensure there is a safe level of staffing across all wards.

Elizabeth Moody, director of nursing and deputy chief executive at the Trust said: “We expect staff to show respect for the dignity and wellbeing of patients and we take allegations that could suggest otherwise extremely seriously.

“We have robust procedures in place in line with national NHS policy to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our patients and staff.

“Concerns were raised that some procedures and guidelines were not being followed correctly. Our patients are our priority and we responded quickly to concerns.

“We are currently carrying out a full and thorough investigation into what happened. However, we are not able to provide more detailed information while this is ongoing.

“We have also spoken to the families of the young people on the ward and assured them that we are taking appropriate action.”

West Lane Hospital incorporates four units that offer support and treatment to children and adolescents with a range of mental health issues.

In 2015, it underwent a £13.8m refurbishment to extend and improve facilities for its young patients.

The Trust that operates the hospital has an overall rating of good with the Care Quality Commission, with a 2013 report focused on West Lane highlighting good practice, with inspectors saying that patients there experienced “care, treatment and support that met their needs and protected their rights.”

The CQC is aware of the issue and the trust is working closely with commissioners and regulators to give additional independent focus on the investigation.