Watchdog concerned by Prison Service's refusal to allow prisoner to die in hospice

ireland
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Digital Desk Staff

A state watchdog has expressed concern at the rejection by the Irish Prison Service (IPS) of several of its recommendations following an investigation into the death of a terminally ill prisoner.

According to the Irish Examiner, he was refused compassionate temporary release to allow him to die in a hospice.

The Inspector of Prisons, Patricia Gilheaney, said the decision to refuse compassionate release was contrary to the advice of medical staff and was also “at odds” with the view of the prison's management and pastoral team, who believed the appropriate setting to provide end-of-life care was in a hospice.

“A prison cell cannot be equated to a hospital or hospice setting,” said Ms Gilheaney, in a report into the death of a 56-year-old prisoner — identified only as Mr O — at the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise on October 30th, 2018.

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It is the second report published this year by the Inspector of Prisons that highlighted how a terminally ill prisoner had died in their cell at the Midlands Prison, when a hospice setting had been recommended by medical staff.

Compassionate temporary release

Mr O, who had been serving a 12-year sentence, since November 2014, had been refused a request for compassionate temporary release (CTR) by the IPS Operations Directorate five days before his death, even though a hospice bed was available.

Ms Gilheaney pointed out that the prisoner was immobile, while the prison governor had offered measures to ensure he could not reoffend if granted release.

She also highlighted how the man had not posed any problem during 27 previous appointments and in-patient stays in hospital.

Although the man had a history of serious offending, Gardaí had not objected to him being granted compassionate release.

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