8 March 2024

Priory Healthcare Ltd have today admitted criminal failures for exposing an NHS patient to serious risk of harm. A judge at Birmingham City Magistrates Court has now sentenced the private healthcare provider and imposed the fine of £650,000.

This is the third and largest ever fine faced by the Priory following a death under their care

The charge was brought for exposing Matthew Caseby to serious risk of harm when he was a patient at the Woodbourne Priory hospital in Birmingham in 2020. 

Matthew, who was 23 years old, had been sectioned under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act for his own safety and was suffering an acute psychotic episode. 

Until he was sectioned a few days before his death, Matthew had never been diagnosed nor medically treated for a mental health condition.

At the end of a catalogue of failings by the hospital, Matthew was left unaccompanied in a courtyard and escaped over a dangerously low fence over which other patients had escaped before. Nothing had been done to make the fence safe. 

Matthew absconded and was killed by a train 14 hours later at 08.47 on September 8, 2020. At the inquest in April 2023 a jury found that Matthew’s death was contributed to by neglect by the Priory Woodbourne hospital, Birmingham. 

The coroner was so concerned about the continued failings and neglect at the hospital that she issued a Prevention of Future Deaths report

Responding to the sentencing of The Priory today Richard Caseby, Matthew’s father, said: "My family is relieved that the Priory has finally been held to account for its criminal neglect. 

However, the prosecution over Matthew's death brings no real satisfaction because, of course, nothing can bring our son back.

Despite its protestations in court today, the Priory has such a shocking record of failure and neglect that I have no expectation that it will ever change its dangerous culture. 

The same fatal mistakes are made again and again.

The Priory was prosecuted and fined £300,000 for the death of Amy El-Keria; it was fined £140,000 for the death of Francesca Whyatt and today it was fined £650,000 over the death of Matthew. 

In 2022 three young women died within two months of each other at the Priory Cheadle Royal hospital in Manchester. And then a fourth died there last year.

This roll call of death and neglect will continue until the government stops the NHS outsourcing mental health services to the Priory."

This criminal prosecution by the Care Quality Commission is the culmination of a three-year investigation and campaign by Matthew’s father, Richard Caseby, the former Managing Editor of The Sunday Times, to seek accountability for his son’s death. 

The Priory Group, which earns at least £400m a year from public sector contracts for looking after patients with mental ill health, has been repeatedly criticised for failures of care over the past decade. In 2019 the company was fined £300,000 after the death of Amy El-Keria, 14, who died in its care at the Priory Ticehurst. 

The company admitted failing to discharge its duty to ensure people were not exposed to risk. In November 2023 the Priory was fined £140,000 after Francesca Whyatt, 21, took her own life at the Roehampton Priory hospital, southwest London. Days before her death, the hospital’s consultant psychiatrist had complained the unit was in “chaos”.

INQUEST is aware of at least 40 deaths of Priory patients in the past 10 years, as recently as September 2023 when Amina Ismail died aged 20 at Priory Cheadle.

Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST, said: "Today's decision is the culmination of Matthew's family’s brave fight for justice and accountability in his name. 

Criminally unsafe practises have been exposed in what is now the third prosecution and fine of The Priory Group for preventable deaths and neglect of NHS inpatients. 

Despite this, the shocking death toll across Priory services continue and we see repeated systemic failings to protect the lives of people in their care. 

This demonstrates a culture of complacency of the Priory Group who put profit before patient safety. We can no longer tolerate the use of public money to fund private provision which is failing to keep people safe."


For further information please contact Lucy McKay on 020 7263 1111 or [email protected] 

Matthew’s family are represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Craig Court of Harding Evans Solicitors, and Dr Oliver Lewis of Doughty Street Chambers. 

Journalists should refer to the Samaritans Media Guidelines.