Coroner Criticises Pain Management in Prisons

Tuesday 8 October 2013

Following an inquest into a death in prison the Coroner for Hertfordshire has criticised the management of chronic back pain in prisons across the country in a report to the Secretary of State for Justice. Tom Stoate represented the family of the deceased.

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The inquest into the death of Ismail Kubilay heard evidence from the healthcare manager at HMP The Mount and the Director of Nursing and Quality at East Anglia for NHS England that outside support for medical teams in hospital in relation to pain management would be useful. The Coroner has therefore written to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, and the Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling, to ask them to consider making provision for pain management specialists to access prisons.

Mr Kubilay died of metastatic lung cancer on 21 May 2010 at Watford General Hospital. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer just 10 days before he died. He had been in intense pain for several months, whilst in custody at HMP The Mount, and had been displaying other worrying symptoms including a yellow palour, clubbing to his fingers, unexplained weight loss and multiple chest infections. He was in such pain that his fellow prisoners were having to care for him by washing him and bringing him food. There were days that he could not even get up to leave his cell.

Mr Kubilay died leaving his wife, three grown up children and three grandchildren, aged five, four and 18 months, behind.

His youngest daughter, Jeyda Kubilay said after the inquest:

"The thing for me that stands out is the total failure of anyone in the prison to be proactive about my father's care and treatment. It was so obvious just from looking at him that there was something seriously wrong with him, but he was just treated like an old man complaining about his health for the sake of it."

Mr Kubilay told his family during phone conversations before he died that he felt that he had become a burden and no one was taking him seriously. He died aged 54.

Mr Kubilay's family welcomed the Coroner's report on pain management of chronic back pain. Mrs Kubilay said:

"No one should have to suffer like he did. Can you imagine what it's like to have your cell door locked each night when you're in so much pain? It was terrible not only for him, but for the other prisoners who had to watch him die."

The family hopes that the Coroner's report will trigger a change in the healthcare provision in prisons meaning that other prisoners don't have to suffer as Mr Kubilay did.

Jocelyn Cockburn of Hodge Jones & Allen, solicitors for the Kubilay family, said:

"There is a serious issue regarding the poor standard of healthcare in prisons. Prisoners with complex medical needs are being failed. It is unacceptable in a civilized society for prisoners to suffer from excruciating pain which could be relieved through pain management. I welcome this recommendation that pain management expertise is brought within prisons"

Tom Stoate is a member of Garden Court Inquests Team.

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