Razumas v Ministry of Justice [2018] EWHC 215 (QB) (12 February 2018)

C brings an action for clinical negligence not against any National Health Service entity but against the Ministry of Justice. He does so because for various periods in between 2010 and 2013 he was in custody and during that time the medical care he received was, it is common ground, deficient in various respects. The highly unfortunate result of the negligence has been that he has had to have his left leg amputated above the knee. (paragraph 1)

The questions in this case are therefore in broad terms whether the negligence is the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice, which has overall responsibility for the prisons in which he was incarcerated, and whether the claim is barred by reason of C’s own actions. There are also a number of subsidiary issues including one as to whether his treatment is in breach of the Human Rights Act 1998 (“HRA 1998”). (paragraph 2)
The period in question in this case is between January 2011 and January 2013. The picture is somewhat complicated by the fact that in that period C was in custody in a number of different prisons [and released on licence]… (paragraph 69)

Towards the end of 2010, following a fall in Pentonville prison, C developed a lump on the inner side of his left calf. We now know that this lump was an unusual species of cancer, a soft tissue sarcoma which commenced in his gastrocnemius muscle in the calf. (paragraph 70)

[He attended various doctors whilst in various prisons – complex chronology]

Following a referral from a doctor in Bullwood Hall prison, an x-ray was performed in late November 2011 and was normal; but his symptoms did not abate. C complained to the Head of Healthcare and returned to the doctor. C was then referred to Southend University Hospital for an orthopaedic consultation. He was seen there on 7 January 2011 and a 10×7 cm mass was noted. (paragraph 71)

C initially sought to bring a claim against the prison healthcare providers who had failed to diagnose the tumour. He approached both private companies who had provided the healthcare in the prisons where he was located and NHS England. No one was willing to accept responsibility for those who had treated him. (paragraph 98)

The issues in the case therefore are (see paragraph 108):
Whether D is directly liable for those involved in the non-medical management of C’s healthcare needs while in prison…
Whether D owes a non-delegable duty in respect of those who provided healthcare at the prisons…

Whether D is vicariously liable for those involved in the management of C’s healthcare needs while in prison…
C’s claim fails (paragraph 247)