Medical staff on scene within minutes after alarm raised at Yarl’s Wood

Yarl's Wood
Yarl's Wood

Medical staff were in attendance within three minutes of the alarm being raised when detainee Christine Case fell ill at Yarl’s Wood, the centre has said.

An inquest opens today on the case of the 40-year-old who died the centre on Sunday.

Director of Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, John Tolland, said; ‘This tragic event has affected us all deeply. Ms Case had been in the Centre for 10 days.

“As per the normal reception procedure, she was seen by a nurse within two hours of arriving and she had a full medical assessment with our GP on the same day. The wellbeing of those in our care at Yarl’s Wood is always our top priority, and the quality of the healthcare we provide has been endorsed by recent reports by both HM Chief Inspector of Prisons and the Care Quality Commission.

“On Sunday morning, Ms Case became ill soon after getting up. Her room mate activated the alarm and an officer came immediately, assessed the situation and summoned our emergency response nurse by radio.

“We have 24-hour, 7-day urgent medical cover on-site at Yarl’s Wood: the nurse was at Ms Case’s side within three minutes and started treating her, while telling the control centre to call for an ambulance and asking for further backup from the centre’s own medical staff.

“Because this incident happened during the changeover between the night and day shifts, there were actually more nurses available than at any other time during the day, and a number of these went to Ms Case’s assistance.”

The NHS East of England Ambulance Service responded immediately, and despatched a rapid response car, an ambulance and a Magpas air ambulance.

Despite the efforts of the attending doctor, paramedics and the centre’s medical staff, Ms Case did not regain consciousness and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mr Tolland added: “In line with the standard procedure for all deaths in custody, the circumstances of this incident will be investigated by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, and will be subject to an inquest by the Coroner. It would therefore be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.

“However, I can say that in the aftermath of this terrible event we have spared no effort in supporting the other residents in coming to terms with the death of a popular and respected member of our community here.

“Our clergy have played an outstanding role in this: on Sunday morning, for example, our Pastor spoke to the congregation at our weekly Christian service about Ms Case’s passing. We also brought in additional care and welfare staff on Sunday and they remain on hand to help.”