Edward Stephen Ham was an inmate at HMP Oakwood, Staffordshire, when he suffered a fatal cardiac arrest during the early hours of 6 February 2013.  An investigation into the death by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman concluded in August 2013, highlighting concerns in relation to the management of Mr Ham’s Healthcare after he was diagnosed with high blood pressure by health staff at both HMP Birmingham and HMP Oakwood.  Mr Ham had been detained at HMP Birmingham prior to a transfer to HMP Oakwood in November 2012. 

The Inquiry, which took place on 24th and 25th June 2014 by South Staffordshire Senior Coroner, Mr Andrew Haigh concluded that Mr Ham died of natural causes following suboptimal medical care.

Mr Haigh also indicated an intention to make a report linked to the issue of staffing levels at HMP Oakwood, particularly in relation to the number and experience of staff on duty at the prison during the night.   

Statement from Mr Ham’s fiancée, Miss Gloria Payne

"The Coroner’s Inquiry and the Ombudsman’s investigation have both helped to clarify some of the questions we had concerning the circumstances of Edward’s death. We remain very angry, however, that he didn’t get the medical treatment that he needed.

Edward was getting on with his sentence and hopeful of an early release. We had been planning our wedding and he had been about to file an Application so that our ceremony could go ahead, as we had planned, on 18 May 2013. Due to what I believe was a lack of basic care on the part of the prison staff I have been deprived of my wedding and of my future life with Edward.

Edward’s adult son, David, who was raised by Edward as a single parent when his mother died of cancer, has also lost his devoted Dad.

We can only hope that, as a result of these Inquiries, this never happens to another family."

Statement of Charlotte Measures, solicitor for Miss Payne and Mr Ham

"This is a tragic case. It is devastating for any family to learn that medical attention was lacking and that their loved one’s death might have been avoided had they only received appropriate care.

Prisoners are entitled to exactly the same standard of healthcare as is available in the community but there were seemingly failings in this case with regard to both the management of Mr Ham’s high blood pressure; and with the reaction from prison staff during the early hours of the morning on 6 February 2013 when Mr Ham pressed his cell buzzer complaining of chest pain radiating to his neck.

 The NHS advice is that anyone with pain in their chest or pain spreading from the chest to the upper back, neck or arm, should seek emergency help immediately. Mr Ham was reliant on prison staff to seek the help when he needed it and yet, despite prison policy that was apparently already in place, an ambulance wasn’t called until 05:56 - over an hour after he was found unresponsive in his cell.

Miss Payne and with David Ham will now be considering what further action they can take against G4S and the healthcare Trusts who were responsible for providing healthcare services to HMP Oakwood and HMP Birmingham."

For more information

For media enquiries contact Clare White on 0121 214 3527 or clare.white@anthonycollins.com. For help with similar cases or for advice on inquest support generally, please contact Charlotte Measures on  0121 212 7478 or charlotte.measures@anthonycollins.com.