Prisoner Ombudsman publishes report into the death of a prisoner

Published on March 02 2022

Mr Kim Sharratt was 58 years old when he died at Altnagelvin Hospital on 29 March 2020, having suffered with an illness. While the post mortem finding was that death was caused by a serious illness the cause of death is established by the coroner. An inquest is pending.

The Prisoner Ombudsman is tasked with investigating the circumstances and events surrounding each death in custody. Mr Sharratt's death was the first prison death to occur during the Covid-19 pandemic. There is no evidence that the pandemic had any impact on the care that Mr Sharratt received.

Until he was admitted to hospital on 16 January 2020 Mr Sharratt did not experience any major health complaints. On 7 February 2020 he received a terminal diagnosis, and he spent the last six weeks of his life in hospital where his illness progressed very rapidly, despite treatment. Mr Sharratt remained in prison custody until the time of his death, due to the rapid decline in his health.

An independent clinical review, to examine the standard of Mr Sharratt's prison healthcare, was carried out by Dr Andrew Davies who is an expert in the field of palliative medicine. Dr Davies concluded that the clinical care Mr Sharratt received was appropriate and timely and the communications he received were appropriate.

With regard to Mr Sharratt's care by prison staff the Prisoner Ombudsman highlighted examples of good practice, particularly the nomination of a "Buddy" or "Buddies" by the Prison Service to assist those with health conditions.

Commenting on the report The Prisoner Ombudsman, Dr Lesley Carroll said:

"I wish to express my sincere condolences to the family of Mr Sharratt and my appreciation of their loss in difficult circumstances when some of the opportunities a family would hope to have towards the end of a loved one's life were not available to them largely due to the speed at which Mr Sharratt's health declined and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"This investigation was written primarily with the family of Mr Sharratt in mind and aims to provide them with helpful information which we hope will assure them that he received appropriate care at all times.

Dr Carroll also extended thanks to the Northern Ireland Prison Service, the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust and the Independent Clinical Reviewer for their contributions to the investigation.

No recommendations were made on this occasion.