06/08/2014

Prison Response To Collapsed Inmate 'Inadequate' - Ombudsman

The Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland has described as "inadequate" the response by staff at Maghaberry Prison to a prisoner who collapsed in his cell and subsequently died.

46-year-old David Brown died from a brain haemorrhage at an outside hospital on 15 December 2012, while in the custody of Maghaberry Prison.

The ombudsman said toxicology tests have revealed painkillers in his system, which had been prescribed to him, and that no other common drugs were detected in his system.

"When Mr Brown was discovered in an unresponsive state in his cell, the NIPS response was inadequate," Prisoner Ombudsman Tom McGonicle said. "He was left unattended for five minutes; the alarm was not immediately raised; other prisoners were not locked; and the nurse was not made aware that it was an emergency situation."

But Mr McGonicle continued: "However our clinical reviewer was not critical of his medical management in prison, and did not feel that an opportunity to achieve an earlier diagnosis existed, or that there would have been a possibility to achieve an alternative outcome for Mr Brown."

The investigation into the incident also identified four matters requiring improvement; two of which (post-incident support for staff, and record-keeping) had been previously made and accepted by the Prison Service and the South-Eastern Health and Social Care Trust.

The Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) has accepted the recommendations of the report and said it has already implemented them.

Mr McGonigle, in expressing sympathy to the next of kin, said: "While some things could have been done better, a key finding of this independent investigation is that there was no possibility to achieve an alternative outcome for Mr Brown."

(IT/CD)

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