Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Prison Nurse Bungle in Stroke Death of Arsonist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Prison Nurse Bungle in Stroke Death of Arsonist

Article excerpt

Byline: Keiran Southern Reporter

AN arsonist serving a life sentence died of a stroke after a bungling nurse mistook his being unconscious for a deep sleep, a report has revealed.

Michael Hemsley, 84, had been locked up in crisis-hit HMP Northumberland since 2009.

The firebug had several chronic health conditions, including epilepsy, heart disease and high blood pressure.

On Sunday, August 3, 2014, a prison officer found Hemsley unresponsive in his cell and asked a nurse to assess him.

The nurse mistakenly said the inmate appeared to be in a deep sleep, but the officer asked his manager to call an emergency ambulance. The request was denied, but two nurses had been called to reassess Hemsley urgently and called paramedics, who took him to hospital. Hemsley died later that day. A doctor at Wansbeck General Hospital certified his cause of death as a bleed from one of the blood vessels in the brain into a space within the skull, with underlying high blood pressure.

The nurse who initially checked him admitted he made a "significant error of judgement" and was subject to a separate inquiry.

The funeral of Hemsley, who was given a life sentence in March 2000 for arson with intent to endanger life, took place on August 18, 2014, with the prison paying towards the cost.

A report into Hemsley's death, carried out by Prisons and Probation Ombudsman Nigel Newcomen, found the prisoner had missed three hospital appointments due to a shortage of staff at the now Sodexo-run prison.

It said: "We agree with the clinical reviewer that the man received generally appropriate primary healthcare treatment, including for high blood pressure, equivalent to what he could have expected to receive in the community.

However, there was a lack of care plans for his chronic conditions and too many hospital appointments were cancelled because of a lack of staff for escorts. …

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