Healthcare safety breach: Priory faces multimillion-pound fine after death of teenager
The Priory healthcare group is facing a fine of millions of pounds for breaching health and safety laws after a 14-year-old girl with a history of suicide attempts died in its care.
A criminal investigation was launched by the Health and Safety Executive into the private mental healthcare group after the death of Amy El-Keria, who was treated at its Ticehurst House psychiatric hospital in 2012, Brighton Magistrates’ Court was told.
The company indicated at a hearing in Brighton that it would be admitting a health and safety breach when the case goes to crown court later this year. Prosecutor Sarah Le Fevre said the fine imposed would be at least £2.4m.
Brighton Magistrates’ Court heard that The Priory would be pleading guilty to the charge of failing to discharge its duty as an employer to ensure people were not exposed to risk. It is due to be sentenced at Lewes Crown Court on 6 February.
Outside court, Amy’s mother Tania El-Keria said her daughter’s welfare should never have been “in the hands of a company whose priority was placing profit over her safety”.
The magistrates’ court was told that Amy, who had a “known and recent history” of suicide attempts, was admitted to the hospital in August 2012. She was left with unsupervised access and the means to carry out another suicide attempt.
On 11 November that year, she was found injured in her bedroom. She died in hospital the following day.
An inquest in 2016 heard staff had not been trained in resuscitation and had not called 999 quickly enough.
The jury said Amy died of unintended consequences of a deliberate act, contributed to by neglect, and that staffing levels at the Ticehurst centre were inadequate.
The Priory Group said in a statement: “We are truly sorry that this very sad incident occurred and extend our deepest sympathies to Amy’s family.
“We continue to invest significantly in improving patient safety at Ticehurst.
“The hospital is making strong progress under new leadership and continues to be rated ‘good’ in all areas by the CQC.”
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