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November 20, 2023

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Priory Healthcare fined following death of 21-year-old patient

Priory Healthcare Ltd, a mental health hospital, has been fined for failing to ensure the safety of patients on the hospital’s Emerald Ward following the death of 21-year-old Francesca Whyatt.

Francesca Whyatt. Credit: Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

Francesca, from Knutsford in Cheshire, was found unconscious at The Priory Hospital in Roehampton, London. She died three days later.

Priory Healthcare, has been fined £140,000 after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Francesca died on 28 September 2013. She had been transferred from a local hospital to the Emerald Ward, a specialist unit at The Priory Hospital, in March 2013.

She was found unconscious in a patient lounge on the top floor of the hospital on 25 September.

Francesca had managed to make her way to the lounge as the hospital responded to an incident involving other patients and used the tights that she was wearing as a ligature.

Exposed to risks 

The HSE concluded Priory Healthcare Limited failed to ensure the provision of in-patient psychiatric treatment was carried out in such a way that patients were not exposed to risks to their health and safety.

Priory Healthcare Limited, of Hammersmith Road, Hammersmith, London, pleaded guilty to failing to discharge a duty under Section 3(1) Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

The company was fined £140,000 at Southwark Crown Court on 14 November 2023. Costs will be decided at a later date.

Paul Hems, HSE’s Head of Operations for London, said: “This incredibly sad case highlights the need for suitable and sufficient systems to be put in place to monitor patients.

“Employers should be aware that HSE will hold to account those who do not comply with health and safety legislation. It should also be noted that similar incidents which have taken place after April 2015 will be enforced by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).”

In 2019, Priory Healthcare was find £300k following death of 14-year-old patient, Amy El-Keria.

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