Detainee’s death raises questions on medical facilities at removal centers

`He died despite repeated pleas for a doctor and painkillers’

16th April 2010: A detainee’s death at an immigration removal centre has once again brought into focus the issue of medical and other facilities at these places.

The police is currently probing the death a 40-year-old Kenyan, amid allegations he died despite repeated pleas for a doctor and painkillers.
The allegations are that the victim, believed to have suffered a heart attack, had asked for Panadol repeatedly and was seen crawling around the floor in pain before he died. It is alleged his pleas for help went unnoticed by staff at the centre, run by the private security company G4S for the UK Border Agency.

His death has resulted in protests by other detainees at the Oakington centre.
The issue of medical facilities at the centers was first brought to the fore, with the initiation of an inquiry involving three doctors at Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre.

They inquiry by the General Medical Council follows complaints alleging substandard patient care; and a series of negative reports bringing to the fore inadequate healthcare at the centre.

Already, calls transferring healthcare at the centre from the private sector to the NHS are being heard loud and clear. As of now, healthcare is the responsibility of Serco, a private company running the centre.

Meanwhile, the police in protective gear were sent to the Oakington centre following the “disturbance”. Giving details, a spokesman for Cambridgeshire police said as of now they were not treating the death as suspicious.

The general secretary of the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees, Dashty Jamal, told the Guardian he had spoken to detainees. He was told the man died of a heart attack, but was asking for a doctor. He was told was hard to get a doctor there.

While G4S refused to comment, a border agency spokesman said the death was being investigated by the police.

The chief executive of the Refugee and Migrant Justice group, Caroline Slocock, also called for an urgent and immediate inquiry.

Whenever something like this happens in a removal centre it is crucial that the other detainees are reassured at the earliest opportunity, she said.

Dr Frank Arnold, the clinical director of the Medical Justice Network, called for the immediate closure of Oakington and other similar facilities

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