The Priory Group is the parent company of The Priory and Partnerships in Care, and is the largest private provider of mental health services in the UK. Both subsidiaries are providers of in-patient mental health facilities, both secure and non-secure, and rehabilitation clinics. The companies have numerous contracts with CCGs and hospital trusts around the country for the provision of mental health services.
The Priory was founded in 1980 and has grown through the acquisition of companies; in 1993 the Priory acquired the Jacques Hall Foundation, a specialist education services, in 2014 the Castlecare Group, one of the UK’s leading providers of local authority funded children’s services; in 2015, Priory acquired Life Works, addiction and mental health hospitals and Progress Care, a leading provider of specialist education and care in Lancashire.
In February 2016, The Priory Group itself was acquired by Acadia Healthcare, a US company specialising in behavioural care.
In November 2016, The Priory Group merged with Partnerships in Care to form the UK's largest provider of in-patient mental health services. The main business for Partnerships in Care was the NHS. The Priory Group is now a subsidiary company of Partnerships in Care UK ltd.
As Partnerships in Care, the company provides the following services:
- medium secure, low secure, locked rehabilitation, open rehabilitation and community housing to support patients' safe and positive re-integration in the community
- individually-tailored measurable and evidence-based treatment programmes with clearly specified goals and timescales
- forensic specialisation with focus on risk reduction, relapse prevention and independent living skills
- a full range of patient care pathways
- acute service, stroke and respite care, specialist forensic older adult services, an end of life care programme for patients within our secure settings, gender-specific therapy to meet the needs of female patients and male patients
- employee assistance support and programmes available for all staff , as well as external organisations, through our Care first division
As the Priory Group, the company provides acute mental health care, secure and step down services, specialist education, complex care and neuro-rehabilitation services, fostering and care homes.
The company has a very complicated structure involving numerous companies, according to accounts registered with Companies House.
The accounts of the holding company Priory Group UK 1 Ltd lists a large number of subsidiaries including holding companies and property companies based in the Cayman Islands.
The ultimate parent of all the subsidiaries is Acadia Healthcare, registered in the USA. In 2019, Acadia put The Priory Group up for sale and in February 2020 reported that it had bids from several companies including Ramsay Health Care, which is backed by private equity firm CapVest, and German hospital provider, Schoen Clinic, in which Carlyle has a stake.
Accounts for Partnerships in Care are available to 31 December 2017; the company reported revenue of £173.7 million, down from £199.7 million in the same period in 2016. Operating profits were £10.1 million, down from £13.3 million.
Net profit for 2017 was almost £6.3 million, down from £10.9 million in 2016.
Accounts for the holding company, Priory Group UK 1 Ltd, for the year to 31 December 2017 report revenue of £796.6 million, down from £823.8 million in 2016. Operating profit for the year was £62.2 million, down from £84.4 million in 2016. Loss before tax was £21.1 million (2016: loss of £175.2 million).
Partnerships in Care and The Priory have numerous contracts with CCGs and trusts and provide a wide range of services. Often Priory Group or Partnerships in Care are part of framework agreements. Examples of contracts include:
In March 2016, Priory Group and Partnerships in Care were awarded part of a framework agreement with CCGs in Sussex to provide specialist inpatient Adult Mental Health Services and Specialist Inpatient and Treatment for Adults with a Learning Disability. The whole contract is worth £27 million over three years.
Throughout 2017/2018, Various Priory subsidiaries were used by Birmingham Children's Hospital for the provision of inpatient beds for both children and adults with mental health issues; overall these contracts, each fairly short-term, came to a value of over £11 million.
The Priory has been the subject of several reports of failures in care in recent years, including several patient deaths.
In 2016, an inquest ruled that the death of a 14 year old Amy El-Keria at a Priory hospital in 2012 was as a result of months of serious failings at the hospital, including staff failing to pass on the fact that she had spoken of wanting to end her life. The inquest also ruled that staff failed to dial 999 quickly enough and failed to call a doctor promptly. Staff were also not trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Staffing levels were also found to be inadequate and a lack of one-to-one time caused or contributed to Amy’s death in a “significant” way.
Following the death of Amy, the Health and Safety Executive brought a case against The Priory Group under the Health and Safety at Work Act. In January 2019, The Priory Group pleaded guilty; reports state the fine could be unlimited, but the prosecutor suggested it would be at least £2.4 million. Eventually the company was fined only £300,000 in April 2019; the judge reportedly took into account that the firm pleaded guilty to criminal charges and reported that its 2017 turnover was £133 million with an operating profit of £2 million.
However, The Guardian reported in May 2019 that campaigners argue that the £133 million is only a fraction of the company's actual turnover; Priory Group’s overall accounts for 2017 report an operating profit of £62 million. The total revenue for the group was £797 million, of which around 90% (£720m) came from contracts with the NHS and social services. The investigation by Corporate Watch also found that the boss at the time of Amy's death received £458,000 as a "golden goodbye" when he left the same year of her death.
Early in 2016, the the family of 17-year-old Sara Green, who died in the Priory Royal in Cheadle in 2014, called for the company to have its NHS contract cancelled. In March 2016, the Priory and Solent NHS Trust admitted liability for the death of 15-year-old George Werb, who had been a patient at the Priory Hospital Southampton. According to a Sunday Mirror investigation, since Amy El-Keria's case in 2012, there has been “at least a further 11 deaths following failings in care at The Priory group’s clinics since".
In February 2019, the Priory's hospital for children with learning disabilities in High Wycombe was closed, following a CQC report that gave the unit an overall rating of 'inadequate'. The CQC found the hospital “not adequately equipped to care for young people with complex needs”. The hospital had only opened in April 2018 and catered for children aged 13 to 17 with learning disabilities and/or autism.
In February 2018, the company's Roehampton hospital in Wandsworth was rated "required improvement" overall. Then in July 2018, the company's hospital in Southgate, North London, was rated “requires improvement” overall by the Care Quality Commission, following an unannounced inspection. However, the CQC rated it as “inadequate” for safety and noted several concerns across its child and adolescent mental health services, acute adult wards and substance misuse services.
In July 2019, the CQC placed two Priory hospitals in special measures. The two hospitals - Priory Hospital Blandford in Dorset and Kneesworth House in Royston, Hertfordshire – were found by the CQC to be unsafe and uncaring and rated them both as inadequate. The hospitals have been given up to six months to show improvement or face closure.
In June 2019, Priory College in Swindon, where people with social and communication difficulties are taught had an Ofsted report that reported serious safety issues. The report from the inspectors said that “serious and widespread failures at the college mean young people are not protected and their welfare is not promoted or safeguarded”. The inspector also reported that there is no track kept of when the learners go missing and there were also no reports on self-harm, online safety or bullying.