Cygnet Health Care Limited, a private provider of mental health care has been fined £1,530,000 after it pleaded guilty in a criminal prosecution brought by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), over the death of a young woman in 2019 using its service at Cygnet Hospital in Ealing.
The fine, given at The City of London Magistrates Court today (21 September 2023), is the largest ever issued by a court to a provider of mental health services as a result of a prosecution brought by CQC.
The health care company pleaded guilty to one offence of failing to provide safe care and treatment contrary to Regulations 12 and 22 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 at its Cygnet Hospital Ealing.
In November 2018 the young woman was admitted to a ward in Cygnet Hospital in Corfton Road, Ealing. In July 2019, she was able to take her own life while resident on the ward. According to the investigation, Cygnet Ealing were aware of the young woman trying to harm herself in an almost identical way four months earlier, but they failed to prevent it.
In its admission of failings, Cygnet Hospital Ealing admitted it had not:
- provided a safe ward environment to reduce the risk of people being able to use a ligature
- ensured staff observed people intermittently in line with the company procedures
- trained staff to be able to resuscitate patients in an emergency
Cygnet was £1,530,000 and ordered to pay £79,773.59 costs and £180 victim surcharge.
Jane Ray, CQC deputy director of operations in London, said: “This is a tragic case and my thoughts are with this young woman’s family and others grieving for their loss following her death.
“People, especially those at such a frightening, vulnerable time in their life, should be able to expect safe care and treatment, so it’s unacceptable that this young woman’s safety wasn’t well managed by Cygnet Hospital Ealing when she needed them the most. This is why I welcome their guilty plea.
“It is also unacceptable that Cygnet Ealing failed to learn from earlier incidents, which could potentially have avoided this tragic outcome. The judge also concluded that what Cygnet said would happen in line with their policy on observations and what actually happened in practice, were not the same thing.
“We know that the majority of people receive good care when they attend hospital, but if we find a provider has put people in its care at risk of harm, we take action to hold it to account and protect people in future.
“I hope this prosecution reminds Cygnet Health Care Limited, and other health and social care organisations they must provide care in a safe environment that meets people’s needs and starts to provide this young woman’s family with small degree of closure.”