A Birmingham hospital is facing a criminal investigation after the death of a ‘beautiful’ young graduate. Matthew Caseby was hit by a train and killed hours after he managed to escape, although he was supposed to be under constant observation.
The University of Birmingham graduate, just 23, was being treated at the city’s Priory Woodbourne Hospital in Harborne but was deemed to be at high risk of fleeing, an inquiry heard earlier. But he was left unattended in a courtyard to escape through the same low fence that raised concern after previous escapes.
Investigators from the Quality of Care Commission are now conducting an investigation to establish whether a criminal offense was committed by the provider and the registered hospital director at the time of Matthew’s death.
SEE MORE INFORMATION:‘Handsome young man’ Matthew Caseby died after he was left unattended to escape Woodbourne Priory Hospital
A spokesperson for the CQC confirmed that it was “currently conducting a formal criminal investigation” into the death to “establish whether a criminal offense was committed by the provider and the registered manager.”
They added: “This investigation is ongoing and we will report more as soon as we can.” The investigation comes after a two-week inquest found that Matthew’s death was caused by hospital negligence earlier this year.
The NHS patient, who was suffering his first mental health crisis, was sent to Woodbourne Priory after being sectioned off under the Mental Health Act for his own safety. He was sectioned after being found running on train tracks in Oxford in September 2020. Prior to that, he had never been treated for any mental illness.
He was diagnosed as suffering from a suspected psychotic episode and told doctors he was hearing voices. But 60 hours after being sent to the hospital, he fled over a low fence while being unattended for several minutes. He was killed by a train shortly afterwards.
During his own year-long investigation into his son’s death, Richard Caseby, 61, a London-based communications consultant, discovered that other patients had escaped through the same low fence previously – but no action was taken by the hospital’s director to make the courtyard safer. .
Speaking after the news of the criminal investigation, Caseby said: “Matthew was a kind, handsome and intelligent young man who was flunked by every institution that was supposed to keep him safe during the worst crisis of his young life.
“The catalog of failures that led to Matthew’s death was horrific. The Priory Group and its executives are finally being held accountable for their criminal negligence.
“All I ever wanted to do is expose the truth and stop it from happening to anyone else.”
Matthew’s inquiry found it was unsafe for him to be left alone in the courtyard, where he had climbed over a low fence and staff had failed to improve the area’s security after previous patients fled.
The jury condemned the Priory’s poor record keeping, inadequate risk assessments, and the absence of a courtyard observation policy. Birmingham and Solihull senior coroner, Ms. Louise Hunt, was so concerned about the continued danger to patients at Woodbourne Priory 18 months after Matthew’s death that she issued a Prevention of Future Deaths report.
She also called on the Department of Health to issue guidelines for the minimum height of fences in such facilities. She said the standards should be introduced alongside broader guidance on safety in areas outside acute mental health facilities.
The CQC is also considering a separate corporate suit from the Priory Group, which earns at least £400m a year from public sector contracts to take care of patents for the mentally ill. Priory Group was contacted for comment.
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