2019 – 12 – asthma attack
Wow! Is it really nearly a year since my asthma attack (see blog 2018-62)? Here’s the highlights:
I found out that asthma deaths in the UK for 2015 was the highest in Europe with 1,434 deaths; there were 1,360 deaths in 2016 (source: Asthma Uk). Also, asthma attacks should be treated as ‘blue-light’ medical emergencies (source: Asthma UK). Whilst NICE have not made recommendations on the management of an acute asthma attack by medical staff (what?!), the MoJ’s own mandatory instruction (contained in PSI 13/2013 ‘Medical Emergency Response Codes’) states thet an ambulance should be called if the prisoner is experiencing breathing difficulties.
I went through the complaint process with both the prison and healthcare (the contract is run by Care UK). In summary: some of the respondents attempted to shift the blame onto me as I did not have my inhaler on me; healthcare accepted that there were “issues that […] need to be addressed;” and, the prison had not conducted a Health and Safety risk assessment into the work we were doing in the Print Shop.
Regarding the last point: I raised a concern with the Health and Safety Executive all they did was write to the prison reminding them of their health and safety reposibilities (disappointing).
Interstingly, Care UK themselves stated to me in writing that asthma attacks should be reported to healthcare staff as a ‘Code Blue;’ to which they would respond immediately. As they know that there was no ‘Code Blue’ call made, this feels a little like damage control on their part; this is not a ‘get out of jail free card’.
Of course, I took this matter to the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman for investigation. Their report is a real humdinger. They noted, with distaste, a theme in the prison’s replies of blaming me for not having my inhaler; and, the mandatory instruction in PSI 03/2013, which stated that breathing difficulties are a code blue emergency (the member of staff who responded to one of my complaints actually stated that the incident was not a code blue; that says it all, particularly given his senior management position).
Further to the PPO’s recommendation, I got a written apology from one of the prison governors; he admits: “It is clear from the report that your symptoms should have been treated s a code bue and the correct procedure as laid out in the PSI was not followed.”
Iam now investigating the possibility of taking a civil action against the prison and Care UK. Stay tuned.
Be happy, be safe.
Graham Coutts, 20th April 2019