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Patient safety needs to be a priority as former senior managers raise concerns over care at The Priory

A BBC News article has revealed that two former senior managers at The Priory Group, the biggest single private provider of mental health services to the NHS, have raised significant concerns over patient safety.

The whistleblowers have expressed concerns that difficulties with recruitment and retention of staff due to poor pay and poor working conditions have led to a situation where hospitals are not fit for purpose. They say staff have insufficient skills to deal with the mental health conditions of patients, and there are simply not enough staff members to deal with the demand for services.

They highlighted that a number of wards are running on 100% temporary agency staff, resulting in no continuity of care. Concerns over the agency staff were also raised, with many arriving to do a night shift after a day shift elsewhere and sleeping on duty.

Whistleblowers say staff accepting 'inappropriate referrals'

The whistleblowers have also raised concern over staff being pressured by management to accept “inappropriate” referrals, where patients who should have been in a psychiatric intensive care unit are sent to wards where staff are unable to cope with them. One former manager stated he believed the reason for this was to ensure that The Priory retained funding from NHS Trusts and local councils.

The whistleblowers said The Priory was focused on filling beds and saving costs, noting consistent pressure to reduce the number of staff employed while increasing productivity.

The Priory deny the claims saying more people need mental health care and waiting lists have 'spiralled'

The Priory has denied the claims, but has stated that the number of people requiring mental health treatment has increased. It say waiting lists have “spiralled”, meaning the number of patients referred to The Priory “at a point of crisis” has also risen.

Supporting families to establish answers

This is not the first time that such concerns have been raised. Irwin Mitchell sadly represent a number of bereaved families who have concerns about the care their loved ones received while in hospitals run by the company. The accounts we've heard from families are deeply concerning, and we're determined to support them to establish answers.


The concerns raised by the former employees cast even further doubt over patient safety at The Priory. I urge The Priory to ensure that patient safety is a priority and that staffing issues don't compromise the standard of care and treatment. The Priory treat approximately 35,000 patients each year.

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting families concerned about the care their loves ones receive in hospitals at our dedicated medical negligence section.