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Priory to close ‘inadequate’ High Wycombe hospital

Priory to close ‘inadequate’ High Wycombe hospital

The Priory Group has announced it will close a hospital for teenagers in High Wycombe after the health and care regulator rated it inadequate. Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found that the Buckinghamshire facility, which caters for children aged 13 to 17 with learning disabilities and/or autism, was “not adequately equipped to care…


The Priory Grouphas announced it will close a hospital for teenagers in High Wycombe after the health and care regulatorrated it inadequate.

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found that the Buckinghamshire facility, which caters for children aged 13 to 17 with learning disabilities and/or autism, was “not adequately equipped to care for young people with complex needs”.

The Priory Group, best known for itsLondon clinic, which is a refuge for celebrities with addiction problems, said the High Wycombe hospital would shut this weekend and its patients would be transferred to other units.

Among the findings of the inspection, carried out in December last year, were:

  • A young person with complex needs managed to swallow objects such as screws, wire and a part of a radiator grill.

  • An agency member of staff allegedly assaulted a patient.

  • Young people did not have access to psychological therapies.

  • The layout of the ward was disorientating and noisy, unsuitable for young people with autism.

Karen Bennett-Wilson, the CQC’s head of hospital inspection, said: “Our inspection has identified a number of serious problems concerning patient safety and the quality of care that needed immediate attention.

“It was a matter of some concern that, at a specialist unit, some of the staff could not demonstrate the knowledge or specialist skills needed to care for teenagers who had learning disabilities or autism.”

The Priory Group is privately owned – in 2016 it wasbought by US firm Arcadia Healthcarefor £1.3bn – but 85% of its income comes from the public sector.

In 2016 there were calls for the NHS to cancel its contracts with the Priory Group after a series of child deaths. In November 2012, Amy El-Keria, who had a history of suicide attempts, died at the Priory Ticehurst House hospital in East Sussex. Aninquest jury in 2016recorded that neglect contributed to her accidental death, and the companypleaded guiltyto a charge under health and safety laws.

Also in 2016, the Priory and Solent NHS trust admitted liability for the 2013 death of15-year-old George Werbwhile on home leave. George had been a patient at the Priory hospital in Southampton. The coroner said his assessment was “incomplete, inaccurate and did not reflect the actual situation”.

In 2015 the coroner in the inquest into the death of17-year-old Sara Green, who died in the Priory Royal in Cheadle the previous year, said she would have been safer at home.

A Priory spokesperson said changes had been made to the leadership of Priory hospital High Wycombe but efforts to recruit experienced staff had not progressed as quickly as anticipated.

“Accordingly, we have decided it is in the best interests of the seven young people at High Wycombe to work with the NHS in identifying suitable alternative placements for them, including at other established Priory units with more experienced staff,” the spokesperson said.

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