• Care Quality Commission rates Priory Hospital North London as “requires improvement” overall
  • But inspectors judged the hospital “inadequate” for safety, flagging up concerns in its child and adolescent wards
  • The findings, published today, follow an unannounced inspection in April and May

A private mental health hospital which treats NHS funded patients including children has been judged inadequate for safety by CQC inspectors.

The Priory Hospital North London was rated “requires improvement” overall by the Care Quality Commission, following an unannounced inspection in April and May this year.

But the regulator judged it as “inadequate” for safety and found a number of concerns across its child and adolescent mental health services, acute adult wards and substance misuse services.

It outlined particular concerns about the child and adolescent wards, including:

  • “High risk” ligatures in child and adolescent ward bedrooms which had led to serious incidents including a child dying after hanging themselves with a bed sheet;
  • A lack of leadership, with neither ward having a permanent manager available;
  • Unsafe nurse staffing levels; 
  • Staff did not always understand what constituted restraint; and
  • Emergency alarms and call buttons were not always responded to in a “timely” way.

The hospital is a 49 bed unit in Southgate, north London, where the NHS commissions beds for adults and children as well as accepting private patients.

The CQC has told Priory Group it must minimise ligature points on all wards, make sure the required number of nurses are on duty in the child and adolescent wards, and all alarms are responded to immediately.

CQC deputy chief inspector and lead for mental health Dr Paul Lelliott said the quality of care at the hospital had declined since the last inspection in 2016 where it was rated overall as “good”.

He added: “More work urgently needs to be done to improve the safety, especially on the wards for younger people.

“I want to see an improvement all round by this provider before we return to inspect again.”

A hospital spokesman said it was taking immediate action to address the concerns flagged up in the report.

He added: “We immediately brought in additional management resource to support our CAMHS service and we are acting swiftly to make the required environmental and other improvements.

“The safety and wellbeing of our patients continues to be our overriding priority.”