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Medical procedures changed after detainee’s death at Capita immigration lock-up

Coroner minded to make a ‘Report to Prevent Future Deaths’ in the case of Tahir Mehmood as medical care by UK government outsourcers comes under scrutiny at Inquest.

Rhetta Moran Kath Grant
12 January 2015

Tahir Mehmood

Procedures at Pennine House, the immigration holding centre at Manchester Airport, were changed following the death of Tahir Mehmood in July 2013.

Lisa Jane Grice, Lead Nurse at Pennine House, told Manchester Coroner Nigel Meadows that she had no clinical involvement with Tahir Mehmood herself and he had been treated by other nurses. She said medical staff are now given essential paperwork before seeing new detainees. There are now defibrillators on two floors at the centre, instead of one, and more staff have been trained to use them, she said.

Previously, there was a two hour ‘window’ when detainees asked to see a nurse but now the medical staff are required to see them as soon as possible. There is also a sticker on the Blood Pressure machine stating that it must be set to record the date and time of readings. The Inquest heard that at the time of Mehmood’s death, because the machine’s batteries had been changed, the date and time were not set properly.

On Friday 9 January, the Coroner said his preliminary view was that he was inclined to make a ‘Report to Prevent Future Deaths’. A Coroner is obliged to issue such a report — formerly known as a Rule 43 report — if it appears there is a risk of other deaths occurring in similar circumstances. (The report is sent to organisations or individuals who are in a position to take action to reduce this risk and they must reply within 56 days to say what action they intend to take.)

The Inquest into the death of Tahir Mehmood, a 43 year old chef, started last Wednesday and is expected to finish tomorrow (Tuesday, January 13th).

Last week, the Inquest heard that medical staff at the centre did not see paperwork warning them that Mehmood had complained of chest pains to immigration officers at Dallas Court Home Office Reporting Centre in Salford before he was transferred to Pennine House, which is run by Tascor, part of the Capita outsourcing group.

Information about Mehmood’s chest pains and the fact that he had been prescribed Vitamin D tablets was recorded on Form IS 91 R at Dallas Court and this document was seen by custody officers at Pennine House. But the form was not shown to the Tascor Medical Services' nurse when he was first examined at Pennine House, six days before his death, the Inquest heard.

Different accounts were given to the Inquest regarding the time it took for medical assistance to arrive on the day Tahir Mehmood died (July 26th), resuscitation techniques and the use of defibrillators.

On the day he died, Mehmood went to see Nurse Yvonne Armriding, complaining of pains in his arms. Mehmood, whose English was limited, phoned his brother-in-law to ask him to speak to the nurse and explain his symptoms. The nurse took his blood pressure, which was low, and told him to rest and elevate his legs. When his blood pressure reading improved, she gave him paracetemol and sent him to his room. Just under an hour later, she responded to an emergency call when Mehmood collapsed.

Nurse Armriding told the Inquest that, after getting no response from Mehmood, she told officers to call an ambulance and she sent someone to bring the defibrillator from the medical office two floors down because there was no defibrillator on the detainees’ accommodation floor. She then started CPR with the help of Tascor’s Duty Operations Manager, Paul Crellin.

Both Crellin and Armriding said resuscitation was carried out on the bed. Armriding said she had no time to use the defibrillator before the paramedics arrived.

On the first day of the Inquest (Wednesday 7 January), Steven O’Reilly, a paramedic with the North West Ambulance Service, told the Coroner that when he and colleagues went into Mehmood’s room he was lying on his bed. Nobody was doing CPR and the paramedics lifted Mehmood off the bed in his sheet and onto the floor so that resuscitation could take place. O’Reilly explained that a hard surface was needed in order to carry out resuscitation.

Responding to questions about medical record keeping, Nurse Armriding said she made a retrospective record, written from memory. There was no notebook or notepaper on the desk in the medical room, she told the Coroner. After seeing Mehmood, she saw two other detaines and then responded to the emergency call.

The Inquest continues.

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For more information, please contact: Kath Grant 07758386208 or Rhetta Moran 07776264646

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