A father branded the Priory Healthcare ‘calculating, cruel and fundamentally dangerous’ yesterday as the private hospital group was fined £650,000 over the death of his son.

Richard Caseby said his son Matthew, 23, ‘died needlessly’ after he was hit by a train after absconding from a hospital courtyard where he had been left unattended.

He told how he had been forced to continually battle for the chain to take accountability over its ‘fatal mistakes’ which were only eventually ‘dragged’ into public focus because he had the time and financial resources to fight a company which attempted ‘to hide what happened’.

Priory Healthcare Ltd this morning admitted a charge under the Health and Social Care Act for exposing personal trainer Matthew Caseby to serious risk of harm while he was a patient at the Woodbourne Priory hospital in Birmingham, by failing to provide safe care and treatment. The maximum penalty was an unlimited fine.

The court heard three other patients had escaped from the hospital over the two years prior to Mr Caseby’s escape, two of whom scaled a fence. 

District Judge Shamim Qureshi today handed Priory Healthcare a fine of £650,000 and ordered the firm to pay costs of £43,672.65 after the private hospital group acknowledged it had exposed service users including Mr Caseby to a significant risk of avoidable harm, making it guilty of the offence. 

Matthew Caseby was left unattended for more than six minutes before absconding from Priory Hospital Woodbourne in Birmingham

Matthew Caseby was left unattended for more than six minutes before absconding from Priory Hospital Woodbourne in Birmingham

Richard Caseby said his son Matthew, 23, ‘died needlessly’ after he was hit by a train after absconding from a hospital courtyard

Richard Caseby said his son Matthew, 23, ‘died needlessly’ after he was hit by a train after absconding from a hospital courtyard 

Priory Healthcare today acknowledged it had exposed service users including Mr Caseby to a significant risk of avoidable harm

Priory Healthcare today acknowledged it had exposed service users including Mr Caseby to a significant risk of avoidable harm

Mr Caseby was hit by a train three days after being admitted to the hospital, following his detention by police under the Mental Health Act in September 2020 while in the grip of an acute psychotic episode.

In April 2022 an inquest jury found the personal trainer’s death was contributed by neglect after hearing how he was left unattended in a courtyard, allowing him to scale a 7ft 6in fence.

Mr Caseby had been sectioned for his own safety after being found wandering near a railway line in Islip, Oxfordshire, and was sent to the hospital in Edgbaston, Birmingham, as an NHS patient because he was still registered with a GP in the city where he graduated with a first in History.

His father, a communications consultant, yesterday told the court that during his son’s inquest, the hospital’s ‘shocking and aggressive denial’ extended to it lobbying for the psychiatrist who conducted the damning investigation into his son’s death to be disregarded as an expert witness.

‘When that failed’, he said, ‘the Priory argued that the jury should not be allowed to make a finding of “death contributed to by neglect” by the Priory Woodbourne hospital despite all the appalling evidence.’

‘And when that failed, the Priory argued that the Coroner should not issue a Prevention of Future Deaths Order even though another patient had escaped from the same Priory hospital, from the same courtyard and fence during the inquest.’

In the searing Victim Personal Statement, Mr Caseby said he, his wife and two daughters were ‘ignored and marginalised’ by a company which ‘took advantage’ of a ‘bereaved family crippled by grief’ in order to ‘protect its own reputation.’

He told Birmingham Magistrates Court an internal hospital review in 2020 had exposed patient safety risks but took no action to make Mr Caseby safe.

After describing his son as a sensitive, gentle and intelligent soul, Mr Caseby said that his ability to grieve had been stunted for years by Priory Healthcare’s attempts to ‘hide the facts’ about his son’s death and ‘evade accountability for its gross failures.’

Pictured: The entrance to Priory Healthcare's Woodbourne Hospital

Pictured: The entrance to Priory Healthcare’s Woodbourne Hospital

Mr Caseby said the firm ‘had been dragged kicking and screaming’ to face hard evidence of its shortcomings.

He said that by the time of his son’s hospital admission, the patient had ‘lost contact with reality’. 

The court heard Matthew Caseby had already exhibited ‘absconsion-suggestive’ behaviours such as tailgating staff by the time he was escorted to the courtyard by a healthcare assistant for some ‘fresh air’.

But he escaped after being left unattended for just four minutes, when the healthcare assistant went to tell colleagues that he was refusing to come back inside. 

Mr Caseby was hit by a train the following morning near the city’s university station, just 200 yards from his father who had spent the night searching the area near the University of Birmingham’s campus, having driven from the family home in Blackheath, South London.

Priory Healthcare was charged after an investigation into the death of Mr Caseby conducted by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), following the inquest.

CQC barrister James Marsland said part of the perimeter fence on the courtyard where Mr Caseby escaped was only 2.3m tall (7.54ft).

‘The prosecution say that they failed to provide safe care and treatment in that they failed to properly assess the risk’, he said, but added that it was not suggested the firm should ‘be sentenced on the basis that it has caused the death of Matthew’.

Paul Greaney KC, for Priory Healthcare, said the firm’s ‘conduct in relation to this prosecution has been co-operative and responsible’, with its guilty plea indicative of the seriousness with which it took proceedings.

He said a ‘suit of measures’ had been implemented to improve patient safety at the facility, including new signage had been erected to ‘remind staff of their obligations’.

Post source: Daily mail

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