Father of man who died after neglect in Priory calls for second hospital to be investigated

The father of a 23-year-old man who died after neglect at a Priory hospital is calling for a criminal investigation into a second Priory facility where four young women died.

Richard Caseby said the Priory should be investigated and prosecuted after three patients died within two months of each other at the Priory’s Cheadle Royal hospital, near Manchester, in 2022, while a fourth patient died last year.

“The Priory is a fundamentally dangerous company, one that steadfastly refuses to learn from its mistakes and neglect. The roll call of death and shame in the hospitals is only getting longer,” Caseby said.

The four deaths are believed to be unrelated and the women died under different circumstances at the facility.

Mental health blogger Beth Matthews, 26, died in March 2022 after swallowing a toxic substance she ordered online, despite not being allowed to open her own message.

An inquest jury found that her death was “attributable to neglect” by the Priory. Her parents said she had been “tragically let down” by the company and that her death was “completely avoidable”.

Lauren Bridges, 20, died in hospital in February 2022 in a “cry for help due to lack of family contact” after being driven 250 miles away from her family in Dorset.

Deseree Fitzpatrick, 30, died on January 23 of the same year, four days after admission, after being given an “inappropriate” combination of medications that caused significant sedation and suppressed her protective gag reflex.

In September 2023, Amina Ismail, 20, died in the same hospital and an investigation into her death will begin on Monday.

Caseby, who successfully campaigned to prosecute the company over the death of his son, said the Priory “must be re-investigated and prosecuted”.

“Private providers like the Priory are draining £2 billion from the NHS and British taxpayers, yet standards of care are appalling,” he said. “Whenever there is evidence of shortcomings and neglect, the Priory’s knee-jerk reaction is aggressive denial.”

Priory Healthcare was prosecuted over the death of Caseby’s son, Matthew Caseby, who died after absconding from Priory Hospital Woodbourne in Birmingham.

He jumped a low fence while left unattended in a courtyard in September 2020 and was hit by a train.

An inquest jury found that Matthew’s death was “the result of neglect” by the Priory, and following a prosecution by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the company was fined £650,000, the largest criminal fine it has ever received .

The CQC rated Priory Cheadle Royal’s child and adolescent mental health care as “inadequate” in 2023, finding there were not enough nursing and medical staff with basic training to protect people from avoidable harm.

The Priory’s chief executive, Rebekah Cresswell, said she “disputed the factual accuracy of many aspects of that report”.

A report later that year rated the hospital as “requires improvement” overall, but downgraded it to “inadequate” for safety.

A Priory spokesperson said: “The three deaths in early 2022, although extremely tragic, are completely unrelated and occurred in three separate wards offering different clinical services. They have been subject to our own internal investigations and investigations, and have been extensively reported on.

“We cannot comment on Amina’s death pending the upcoming inquest.”

The spokesperson added that Priory was “regulated in the same way as the NHS and other independent providers and 84.3% of our services are rated good or better by regulators, which is above the national average”.

A spokesperson for the Care Quality Commission said: “We are not currently investigating Cheadle Royal Hospital in relation to criminal charges. However, the services in the hospital are continuously monitored. We can inspect at any time if we have evidence that people are at risk and have a range of enforcement powers that we can use if necessary.”