Private Mental Health Provider Fined Over Inpatient's Tragic Death

Private Mental Health Provider Fined Over Inpatient’s Tragic Death

The Private Mental Health Provider Cygnet Health Care Fined £1.53 Million Over Inpatient’s Tragic Death in London*.

In a landmark legal case, Cygnet Health Care, a private-sector mental health provider, has been hit with a £1.53 million fine after pleading guilty to charges brought by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The charges revolve around the provider’s failure to ensure the safety and well-being of an inpatient at its Ealing hospital, ultimately resulting in the tragic death of a young woman who took her own life in July 2019.

This big fine marks a significant milestone, constituting the largest penalty ever imposed on a mental health service as a result of legal action initiated by the CQC. It follows a prior £1.5 million fine imposed on the Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust in 2021 for breaches in care that led to 11 fatalities.

Cygnet Health Care, which is under the ownership of the US-based Universal Health Services, acknowledged its shortcomings in providing a secure ward environment that would minimize the risk of ligature use by patients. Additionally, they failed to ensure adequate patient monitoring in accordance with company protocols and neglected to adequately train staff in emergency resuscitation procedures.

A revelation by The Guardian in 2022 exposed serious deficiencies in the care provided to 11 inpatients at Cygnet facilities since 2012, as well as at other private mental health providers. In total, the NHS allocates approximately £2 billion annually to private hospitals for mental health services.

The CQC initiated legal proceedings following the case of a young woman admitted to Cygnet Hospital Ealing in November 2018, who tragically took her own life on the ward eight months later. The CQC highlighted that Cygnet Ealing was fully aware of the patient’s previous suicide attempt, which was nearly identical, yet they failed to adequately address the known environmental risks she faced. The CQC asserted that had Cygnet Health Care fulfilled its statutory obligations, the young woman would not have been exposed to such a significant risk.

Jane Ray, Deputy Director of Operations for CQC in London, expressed her disappointment, stating that individuals, especially those going through vulnerable periods in their lives, should expect safe and compassionate care. She emphasized that it was unacceptable for Cygnet Hospital Ealing to mismanage the young woman’s safety when she needed them the most. She welcomed Cygnet Health Care’s guilty plea but also criticized the provider for failing to learn from prior incidents that could potentially have prevented this tragic outcome.

During the court proceedings, the judge clarified that the case was not about prioritizing profit over safety.

If you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one due to inadequate mental health care, we might be able to assist you in pursuing a claim and guiding you through the inquest procedure.

Our skilled medical negligence solicitors will conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s suicide, seeking to determine how and why it occurred.

We will strive to secure an acknowledgment of the mistreatment your loved one endured and obtain the compensation you rightfully deserve to address any financial charge you have encountered.



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