Sussex

Priory Ticehurst Hospital faces fine over girl's death

Amy El-Keria Image copyright Family handout / PA
Image caption Amy El-Keria was found hanged in her room at the Priory Hospital, Ticehurst, in November 2012

The Priory healthcare group is facing a multimillion-pound fine over the death of a child at one of its hospitals.

Amy El-Keria, 14, who was deemed high-risk, was found hanged in her room at the Priory in Ticehurst, East Sussex, in November 2012.

The company indicated at a hearing in Brighton that it would be admitting a health and safety breach when the case goes to crown court later this year.

Prosecutor Sarah Le Fevre said the fine imposed would be at least £2.4m.

Brighton Magistrates' Court was told The Priory would be pleading guilty to the charge of failing to discharge its duty as an employer to ensure people were not exposed to risk.

It is due to be sentenced at Lewes Crown Court on 6 February.

'Live with heartbreak'

Outside court, Amy's mother Tania El-Keria said her daughter's welfare should never have been "in the hands of a company whose priority was placing profit over her safety".

"For 14 years we kept her safe but within three months with the Priory she was dead.

"Six long years it has taken for the Priory to be brought to court.

"Every day I have to live with the heartbreak of my child's death," she said.

The magistrates' court heard Amy, who had a "known and recent history" of suicide attempts, was admitted to the hospital in August 2012.

She was left with unsupervised access and the means to carry out another suicide attempt.

On 11 November that year, she was found injured in her bedroom. She died in hospital the following day.

An inquest in 2016 heard staff had not been trained in resuscitation and had not called 999 quickly enough.

The jury said Amy died of unintended consequences of a deliberate act, contributed to by neglect, and that staffing levels at the Ticehurst centre were inadequate.

Image copyright The Priory Group
Image caption Amy was admitted to the Priory Hospital in Ticehurst a few months before she died

The Priory Group said in a statement: "We are truly sorry that this very sad incident occurred and extend our deepest sympathies to Amy's family.

"We continue to invest significantly in improving patient safety at Ticehurst.

"The hospital is making strong progress under new leadership and continues to be rated 'good' in all areas by the CQC."

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