Advising with empathy and experience

Priory Healthcare fined after failings that led to patient's death


A care provider was fined £650,000 after a security lapse after a patient escaped from a mental health unit and was hit by a train.

Matthew Caseby, 23, from London, was able to leave Priory Hospital Woodbourne, Birmingham, in 2020 by scaling a wall from its courtyard.

Priory Healthcare Ltd admitted breaching the 2008 Health and Social Care Act by failing to provide safe care and treatment in a hearing at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court.

An inquest in 2022 found that Mr Caseby was "inappropriately attended" for several minutes, allowing him to leave the hospital.

He had been detained at the hospital under the Mental Health Act after being seen running on railway tracks north of Oxford five days before his death. 

On 7 September 2020 he mentioned to a nurse he was a personal trainer and expressed frustration at not being able to get outside and exercise.

He was told by a doctor he could go out into the courtyard to get some fresh air, despite concerns raised by a nurse.

Mr Caseby was escorted outside and supervised initially but would then not return inside and his nurse went to get help, the court heard.

He climbed over the 2.3m fence and a day later was hit by a train near Birmingham's University Railway Station.

Prosecuting for health and care regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), James Marsland, said that the case was being brought for the failings in Mr Caseby's care, rather than that it caused his death.

This centred on the firm not adequately assessing the risk, amounting to a failure to provide safe treatment.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Richard Caseby's father said his ability to grieve was stunted for years by Priory Healthcare's attempts to "hide the facts" about his son's death and "evade accountability for its gross failures.”

Reflecting on his statement, district judge, Shamim Qureshi, said Mr Caseby had “fought tooth and nail” for the investigation by the coroner and CQC.

Judge Qureshi said he understood that dealing with patients under the Mental Health Act was “a very difficult area” and a “balance must be found between prison-like conditions, or the free rein given to people in hospitals.”

However, confirming a fine of £650,000 and prosecution costs of £43,672, Judge Qureshi said the culpability of harm in this case was high.

A Priory spokesperson apologised "unreservedly" for the shortcomings in the care provided to Mr Caseby. 

The company said it had followed all recommendations from the investigation and inquest, including raising the height of the courtyard fencing at Woodbourne and other facilities to 3.2m.