A famed hospital which has treated the likes of Robbie Williams and Amy Winehouse has been slammed following the death of a patient – who was found hanged in a ward.
The Priory Hospital in southwest London was criticised for its “complete lack of leadership” and “neglect” after psychiatric patient Francesca Whyatt hanged herself.
Ms Whyatt, 21, from Knutsford in Cheshire, was discovered unconscious in a lounge on the top floor of the hospital with a noose around her neck in 2013.
Attempts to resuscitate her were made and she was later taken to Kingston Hospital where she died three days later.
Karon Monaghan QC, assistant coroner for Inner West London Coroner’s Court, said that there had been “very few” experienced staff on the day of Ms Whyatt’s death, with some staff being new or only having a few days of experience.
She said: “The training and induction of staff was generic and not fully suited to the particular requirements at Emerald Ward.
“The reliance on agency staff added to the risk and detracted from the continuity and effectiveness of the therapy of the ward.
“More could have been done earlier to recruit permanent staff.”
Ms Monaghan noted in her report that Ms Whyatt had previously attempted to hang herself at the hospital and that that the incident should have been treated as a serious untoward incident (SUI) and followed by a formal investigation.
Yet on the hospital’s incident form the level of harm was described as “low” and no investigation took place.
Ms Monaghan said there was a “risk of future deaths that will occur unless action is taken” and listed four matters of concern, including that ligature incidents were not automatically treated as SUIs, despite the possibility of death occurring within seconds.
Ms Monaghan concluded that the Care Quality Commission, NHS, chair and members of the Mental Health National Programmes of Care Board, and hospital director at Priory Hospital must take “urgent action” to prevent future deaths.
She said: “It [is] for each of the individuals or agencies to whom this report is addressed to identify any specific and appropriate action that should be taken on their or their organisations’ behalf in relation to the concerns listed above.”
The Emerald Ward was closed in June or July 2014.
Dr Sylvia Tang, chief executive of Priory Healthcare, said: “We are deeply sorry for Francesca’s tragic death four years ago. The safety of our patients is our overriding priority and we do everything we can to ensure it is protected.
“We have taken careful note of the concerns raised by the coroner, to which we are giving full and immediate consideration in addition to the procedural changes and £6.5 million investment already put into place at Roehampton over the past five years.”
Over the years The Priory has treated a string of high-profile celebrities and millionaires including pops stars such as Eric Clapton, Robbie Williams and Amy Winehouse, as well as sports stars such as George Best, Paul Gascoigne and Ronnie O’Sullivan.
But half of the patients at the 107-bed clinic are said to be paid for by the NHS.