Prison drug death report out today

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The Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland will today publish her report into the death of 49-year-old Derry man Patrick Duddy who died of poisoning by prescription drugs in Maghaberry Prison last year.

Mr. Duffy, from the Rosemount area of the city, passed away on June 23 last.

The 49-year-old died of poisoning by dihydrocodeine, diazepam and chlordiazepoxide.

The circumstances of Mr Duffy’s death were investigated by the Prisoner Ombudsman and her report identifies a number of areas of concern for both the South Eastern Trust, which has responsibility for healthcare within prisons, and the Prison Service.

Justice Minister David Ford, expressing his sympathy to the family of Mr. Duffy, said the case underlined “the importance of the effective management of the use of prescription drugs within a prison setting.”

He added: “It is a reality that many prisoners who come into the care of the Prison Service and the South Eastern Trust are on various forms of medication in the community.

“That medication cannot be removed when they are sent to prison but there is an obligation on the Trust and the Prison Service to manage their medication effectively, with continuous monitoring.

“This was a tragic death and I want to express my sympathy to the Duffy family at their loss.”

Mr. Ford said that, of the 14 issues of concern highlighted in the Ombudsman’s report, there were seven for the Prison Service to address.

“The criticism of Prison Service relates to policy and procedural difficulties which have been addressed following the transfer of responsibility for prison healthcare to the South Eastern Trust in April,” he said.

“A number of other key steps have been taken forward by the Prison Service to tackle the issues of concerns raised, including agreement on a joint NIPS/SET framework on substance abuse in prison.

“The Prison Service has also sought and received reassurance that steps have been taken by the Trust to address the six concerns which relate to them and ensure lessons are learned.”