Mental healthcare group The Priory has been fined £300,000 for breaching health and safety laws over the death of a 14-year-old girl.
Amy El-Keria, who had a history of suicide attempts, died on 12 November 2012 at the company’s Ticehurst House psychiatric hospital.
An inquest jury in 2016 heard neglect contributed to her death and found she had died accidentally of unintended consequences of a deliberate act.
It also found that staff did not call 999 quickly enough, failed to call a doctor promptly and were not trained in CPR.
The jury said the staff response was so poor that Amy may have lived if she had received proper care.
A criminal investigation was launched and the company admitted failing to discharge its health and safety duty.
Prosecutors said information about Amy’s care had not been properly handled, and that staff were not trained well enough in identifying and responding to ligature risks.
An audit of her room was done by an untrained member of staff and identified medium risks that were not followed up.
The court heard that ligature risk concerns raised in November 2011 by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) were not rectified by their next inspection in June 2012.
Details of a conversation about suicide that Amy had with a nurse on the day she died were also not passed to her doctor.
Amy was taken from Ticehurst House, in East Sussex, to a hospital in Hastings but died the next day after life support was withdrawn.
The ambulance’s stretcher could not fit in the lift and she had to be taken out of The Priory on a body board.
Her mother, Tania El-Keria, told the court that dealing with her daughter’s death made her feel like her heart and soul is ripped out every morning.
Speaking after the fine was announced, she said: The public’s eye has been firmly opened to what The Priory stand for, profit over safety.
Today is a historic day in our fight for justice for Amy.
Our Amy died in what we know to be a criminally unsafe hospital being run by The Priory.
She added: This whole painful process has been marked by The Priory’s long and bitter failure to show any level of remorse… or responsibility.
Asked about the size of the fine, Ms El-Keria said: It’s not about the fine, it’s not about the money.
Judge Mr Justice Dingemans told Lewes Crown Court that the company only took action after her death and failed to make appropriate changes when required to do so by the CQC.
There was, in my judgment, insufficient urgency demonstrated in dealing with these problems, he said.
In assessing the fine, he said he could not find any aggravating factors and took into account the company’s guilty plea.
He also noted its lack of previous convictions, good health and safety record and that steps had been taken to close and refurbish the unit where Amy lived.
The company was also ordered to pay nearly £66,000 costs for the Health and Safety Executive’s investigation.
Priory Group chief executive, Trevor Torrington, repeated the company’s sincere and profound apologies to Amy’s family.
He said significant steps had been taken at the hospital, such as extra training for staff managing patients at risk of self-harm, including dealing with emergencies.
:: Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email [email protected] in the UK.
(c) Sky News 2019: The Priory fined £300,000 over death of 14-year-old Amy El-Keria