Inquest concludes badly managed high blood pressure contributed to Wandsworth prisoner's death
The inquest into the death of Osman Ali Hassan, a 45 year old man from South London, has concluded that “there was a failure to adequately manage his hypertension (high blood pressure) in prison, this made more than a minimal contribution to his death”.
Posted on 05 March 2020
The inquest jury concluded that the prison healthcare service at HMP Wandsworth lacked a clear pathway for all long-term conditions, including hypertension. They found that had this pathway been in place then Osman’s hypertension would have been managed in accordance with NICE guidelines which may have controlled his condition.
The inquest was held at London Inner West Coroner’s Court on 3 and 4 March 2020.
Osman, who was known as Ossie, died in custody at HMP Wandsworth on 10 October 2018 as a result of an aortic dissection. The cause of the dissection is unknown but high blood pressure is a risk factor.
Osman was diagnosed with high blood pressure before entering prison. Throughout his time at HMP Wandsworth, the healthcare team recorded several blood pressure readings from him, the majority of which showed his blood pressure to be consistently high.
The inquest heard evidence from the author of an external healthcare review of Osman’s care, as well as the conclusions of a Serious Incident report and a Police and Prisons Ombudsman report. All three concluded that Osman’s blood pressure was not properly managed while in prison, that there were missed opportunities to follow up on his consistently raised blood pressure and that healthcare staff lacked clinical curiosity and a joined up approach to the care of individual prisoners.
The external healthcare review found that Osman’s care fell below the standard he could have expected to receive in the community and that he should have been prescribed additional drugs to control his blood pressure. Evidence was also given at the inquest that following Osman’s death and the recommendations in various reports, changes to procedures and practices have been made to better manage patients with long term conditions.
According to the charity INQUEST, since Osman’s death there have been six deaths in HMP Wandsworth, two were non-self-inflicted (or ‘natural cause’) deaths of men under 50, two deaths are yet to be classified, and one was self-inflicted.
Abide Kumyalili, sister of Osman Ali Hasssan said:
"Ossie loved to make people happy. He always had a smile on his face, and I can still hear his laugh in my head. He has left a very big hole in my life and that of the family. I feel that Ossie was let down by the care he received at HMP Wandsworth. His hypertension was allowed to get out of control, but no one seemed to do anything about it. I do not think that this would have been allowed to happen had he been in the community, rather than prison.”
Jasmine Leng, Senior Caseworker at INQUEST, said:
“So called natural cause deaths in prison are too often found to be far from natural. People in prison should have the same access to healthcare as those outside. It was paramount both for the family and the public interest that this inquest was able to bring to light the failures in Osman’s care.”
Benjamin Burrows, of Leigh Day solicitors, said:
“Since his death Osman’s family have had serious concerns about the care he received at HMP Wandsworth. I hope that the inquest’s conclusion helps to give them some closure on what happened and why it happened, and that this then helps to prevent any mistakes found from happening again in the future.”
The family are represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group member Benjamin Burrows of Leigh Day Solicitors and Hannah Noyce of 1 Crown Office Row Chambers. They are working with INQUEST caseworker Jasmine Leng.