Wed | Jan 29, 2020

Jamaican died in UK immigration detention after staff ‘dismissed’ his stroke - inquest found

Published:Tuesday | November 12, 2019 | 3:15 PM
Jamaican Carlington Spencer died in hospital on October 3, 2017, after medical staff in Morton Hall took more than 48 hours to take emergency measures in response to warnings that he was unwell - The Independent UK/ INQUEST photo.

A Jamaican man died in immigration detention in the United Kingdom after medical staff “dismissed” signs that he was having a stroke because they wrongly presumed that he had taken the synthetic drug known as spice, an inquest has concluded.

The Independent UK reports that Carlington Spencer, 38, died in hospital on October 3, 2017, after medical staff in Morton Hall took more than 48 hours to treat his condition as an emergency despite warnings he was “fire hot” and one side of his face was drooping, the jury heard.

In an unusual move, the coroner said he was preparing a report to send to Morton Hall and Nottingham NHS on how to improve their response to such warnings and to prevent “confirmatory bias” by staff.

Spencer grew up in Jamaica and reportedly had a number of successful businesses, but after moving to Derby with his wife in 2010 reportedly suffered a series of difficult bereavements and developed a troubled relationship with alcohol. 

After separating from his wife, he became homeless for periods and struggled with mental and physical ill health, according to The Independent.

In April 2016, he was imprisoned for drug-related offences and a year later, after serving his sentence, was detained in Morton Hall IRC under immigration powers.

The jury found healthcare staff and officers were “dismissive” of repeated warnings from fellow detainees in the days before Spencer's death that he was suffering from a stroke or another physical ailment, and that there was a lack of communication between staff about his health.

Detainees told the inquest Spencer was slurring his words, was “fire hot” and dribbling, and had been found collapsed on the floor twice and complained of a headache and pain in his eyes.

But healthcare staff did not assess him for stroke-related symptoms, despite him having pre-existing conditions, and told the inquest that they believed he had been suffering from a physical attack related to spice. 

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