Dorset coroner criticises ‘inequity’ in prison mental health care – BBC News

Image source, family brochure

Screenshot, Frazer Williams, 28, took his own life while awaiting transfer from prison to a psychiatric unit

  • Author, Marcos Blanco
  • Role, bbc news
  • 4 hours ago

Prisoners with mental health emergencies face “inequity” in the way they are treated, a coroner has said.

Dorset’s chief coroner, Rachael Griffin, said there were delays in inmates being sent to hospital, while the public received immediate NHS care.

In a Preventing Future Deaths Report, it said an inmate at HMP Guys Marsh, Frazer Williams, died after waiting for a transfer to hospital for more than three weeks in a prison with no healthcare unit.

The Prison Service said it would consider the report.

Williams, 28, was found dead in his prison cell near Shaftesbury on March 7, 2022.

An inquest jury previously concluded that he took his own life following “inadequate evaluation and follow-up.”

His mental health deteriorated to the point where he had delusions that flushing the toilet or watching television would harm his family, the inquest heard.

Mrs Griffin recorded: “His cell was in an extremely poor state, filled with rubbish, a toilet without flushing and a bucket which he used to urinate and defecate… it was found to be full in his cell at the time of his death “

Image source, family brochure

Screenshot, Williams’ mother previously said she was trying to come to terms with his death and what she endured.

The coroner said there was evidence that transfers to hospital within the legal period of 28 days were unusual.

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He concluded: “There is an injustice in the system in that if a person is deemed liable to be detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 in the community, they will be admitted to hospital immediately.”

Writing to the prison service and other authorities, also highlighted flaws in the handover process at Mr Williams’ previous prison, HMP Winchester.

He said Hampshire Prison had 24-hour medical care, while HMP Guys Marsh did not, and that there was a “lack of a national directory” of available facilities.

Earlier, Mr Williams’ mother Tracey Fitter said: “We are trying to come to terms with the circumstances surrounding his death and what he endured in the months leading up to it.

“There is a huge void in our lives that cannot be filled and we miss it every day.”

His lawyer Maya Grantham previously said: “The Frazer investigation has shed light on how unsafe prison is for someone as sick as Frazer.

“The current process of referral and transfer from prison to psychiatric hospital requires urgent reform. “

A Prison Service spokesperson said: “Our thoughts remain with the friends and family of Frazer Williams.

“We will carefully consider the coroner’s findings and respond… in due course.”

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