Who says Britain’s National Health Service is not for sale? Almost half of all expenditure on Child and Adolescent mental health inpatient beds in the UK in the past 5 years has gone to private hospitals – mainly to the American owned Priory Group. Last year a Coroner said serious failings by staff at the Priory, Britain’s largest private provider of mental healthcare, has possibly contributed to 16 year old William Jordan’s suicide in one of their hospitals. Earlier this year the group received a fine of hundreds of thousands of pounds after pleading guilty to health and safety charges in connection with death of a 14 year old girl in 2012. I went to speak to William Jordan’s bereaved parents Mark and Wendy Jordan for my report for BBC Radio 4.
In a statement to the BBC, The Priory said it strongly refuted the allegation that it put making money ahead of patient safety. In a statement it said “Of our 85 CQC-registered healthcare sites, 88.2% are rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ overall. By comparison, the figure is 78% for NHS mental healthcare sites. Our services remain among the safest in England. Since this exceptionally sad incident, we took immediate action to address patient safety, including the installation of a CCTV patient-safety system, enhanced and specialist staff training, and the creation of 12 ‘safer’ rooms to support our most unwell patients. Swift disciplinary action was taken by the Priory Group against staff who failed to act in accordance with Priory observation policy. A CQC report, following a visit in October 2018 and published in December 2018, states ‘we found the provider had made good progress regarding our concerns.’ The hospital is under new leadership, and we have recruited additional, experienced staff to support our child and adolescent services.”