Prison changes after North Sea Camp inmate’s death

Prisoner accommodation, where Colin Purvis suffered a cardiac arrest.
Prisoner accommodation, where Colin Purvis suffered a cardiac arrest.

A raft of changes have been made at HMP North Sea Camp, following the death of a prisoner living in a ‘half-way house’ outside the main site.

Harry Purvis suffered a cardiac arrest while he was taking part in a project to allow prisoners to live away from the main prison accomodation with more independence.

It took staff more than 10 minutes to arrive with the 70-year-old, who was a long-standing smoker with a chronic heart condition, and although doctors have said the delay did not contribute to his death, changes have now been made to ensure it does not happen again.

At an inquest into his death on Wednesday, Claire Parkin, from the prison and probation ombudsman, said: “In view of the events, in all probability Mr Purvis would not have survived. Our recommendations concern the emergency response itself.”

Jubilee House, where Mr Purvis was living, had only been open a matter of weeks when he collapsed on May 20.

There was no phone or first aid equipment in the house, and a prisoner had to run to the gate to get help, leaving another to carry out CPR, the jury heard during the inquest at Spalding’s Red Lion Quarter.

Peter Hines, who was on duty on the gate, said: “I got a vehicle and went to park outside healthcare. It took a bit longer then because other prisoners were there wanting their medication. When we arrived, Mr Purvis’ colour wasn’t good.”

Nurses took over, but when one asked for the defibrillator, it transpired it had been left behind, so somebody had to go back and get it.

Nurse Martin Ledgeway said: “It never occurred to me to fetch the defibrillator, based on the case history.”

Mr Purvis was taken to hospital and pronounced dead shortly after his arrival.The jury returned a verdict of death by natural causes.

Since this incident, more defibrillators have been placed around the Freiston Shore prison, and all staff are receiving training in how to use them. An intercom system has been installed in Jubilee House, and there is now a dedicated emergency responder based in the healthcare facility at all times.