UK: HMP Littlehey: prison staff restrained 'frail' cancer patients
The prisons ombudsman said one, 81-year-old James Baldwin, was also left lying naked on the floor of his cell twice shortly before he died.
Officers at HMP Littlehey unnecessarily handcuffed another during treatment for oesophageal cancer, inspectors added.
The Ministry of Justice said it had updated its procedures for restraining prisoners during hospital visits.
Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) Sue McAllister said she had raised concerns about unjustified use of restraints at the Cambridgeshire prison three times this year.
Of Mr Baldwin’s death, she added: “I am very concerned that he was left lying naked on the floor of his cell for two long periods in the hour before he died.”
Restraints “not appropriate”
Mr Baldwin, who had been serving a 15-year sentence for sexual offences, was diagnosed with incurable lung cancer in December 2017 and later signed a Do Not Resuscitate order.
On three hospital visits he was restrained with handcuffs or an escort chain, after risk assessments which “were not informed by medical information”, said the PPO.
It was not “appropriate or proportionate” to use restraints given his “very poor health” and low risk of escape, added the report.
On 6 August 2018, Mr Baldwin had twice fallen out of bed but the lone female officer who found him called for help rather than entering his cell “for decency reasons”.
That meant he was left lying naked on the floor for 15 minutes the first time, and 10 minutes the second time. He died shortly after.
The PPO said all staff should understand the importance of intervening to save a life in an emergency and that risk assessments should take into account a prisoner’s physical condition.
In a separate report, inspectors flagged up similar concerns over the death of Peter Mellings, 68, who received an indeterminate sentence for public protection in 2008.
He died from oesophageal cancer on 6 November last year but in the weeks beforehand had been taken to hospital in handcuffs or escort chain despite being “ill and frail”.
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