A PRESTIGIOUS mental health hospital has been fined £140,000 after a young woman was found unconscious on one of their wards.

Francesca Whyatt, from Knutsford, was an inpatient at The Priory in Roehampton, London, when she was discovered unconscious in a patient lounge on September 25, 2013.

The 21-year-old died three days later.

Today, 10 years after her death, Priory Healthcare has been fined £140,000 after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

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Francesca had been transferred from a local hospital to the Emerald Ward, a specialist unit at The Priory Hospital, in March 2013.

She had managed to make her way to the lounge as the hospital responded to an incident involving other patients and used the tights that she was wearing as a ligature.

An investigation by HSE concluded Priory Healthcare Limited failed to ensure the provision of in-patient psychiatric treatment was carried out in such a way that patients were not exposed to risks to their health and safety.

Daniel Whyatt, Francesca’s brother, said his sister was a ‘truly selfless and special individual’.

Daniel said: “The tragic and untimely death of our beloved sister has had a profound impact, and has repercussions well beyond those conceivable to anyone outside of our little family unit.

“It has invariably ruined all of our lives, and has muddied the precious memories we have of Francesca.

“It is a strange thing to note that it is just as difficult to write her name as it is to speak it, all these years later it is still so raw.

“We should be able to talk about her fondly, with a smile. Instead every mention of her is done so in anger and rage and it feels like being stabbed in the heart.

“It is extremely overwhelming.

"Francesca had a proclivity for helping everyone she met and changed their lives in positive and meaningful ways, often at her own expense.

“She was a truly selfless, special and unique individual.”

Paul Hems, HSE’s head of operations for London, said: “This incredibly sad case highlights the need for suitable and sufficient systems to be put in place to monitor patients.

“Employers should be aware that HSE will hold to account those who do not comply with health and safety legislation.

"It should also be noted that similar incidents which have taken place after April 2015 will be enforced by the Care Quality Commission.”

Priory Healthcare Limited, of Hammersmith Road, Hammersmith, London, pleaded guilty to failing to discharge a duty under Section 3(1) Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

The company was fined £140,000 at Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday, November 14.

Costs will be decided at a later date.

A Priory spokesman said: “We are deeply sorry that this tragic incident occurred at our hospital 10 years ago and we would like to express our heartfelt condolences to Francesca’s family for their loss.

“We take our responsibilities extremely seriously and, as recognised by the judge, have co-operated fully with the HSE’s investigation, entering a guilty plea at the earliest possible stage.

“The ward where Francesca was an inpatient closed in 2014, and we have made improvements to our observations and engagement policy.

“Since 2013, we have invested £15 million into improving the environment, services and staffing at Roehampton Hospital.”