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Care failings contributed to death of woman in prison, inquest finds

A jury at the inquest of Sarah Reed, a mentally ill prisoner at HMP Holloway who took her life at the jail last year, has identified serious shortcomings in her care.

Reed was in prison awaiting medical reports about whether she was mentally fit to plead after being charged with assaulting a nurse in a secure psychiatric unit. The reports found she was unfit to plead, but Reed killed herself three days before they were due to be completed.

The jury concluded that Reed, 32, killed herself at a time when the balance of her mind was disturbed, but they were unsure whether she had intended to do so. They said a failure in management of her medication and the failure to conclude the fitness to plead assessment in a timely manner contributed to her subsequent death.

They also had concerns about suicide and self-harm report monitoring and believed that Reed did not receive adequate treatment in prison for her high levels of distress.

Deborah Coles, director of Inquest, a charity providing expertise on state-related deaths, condemned the fact that Reed was in prison at all, given her serious mental illness.

“Sarah Reed was a woman in torment, imprisoned for the sake of two medical assessments to confirm what was resoundingly clear, that she needed specialist care not prison. Her death was a result of multi-agency failures to protect a woman in crisis. Instead of providing her with adequate support, the prison treated her ill mental health as a discipline, control and containment issue,” Coles said.

The jury delivered its narrative verdict at the inquest at City of London coroner’s court after hearing almost three weeks of evidence before the assistant coroner Peter Thornton QC.

Reed was found dead on her bed at HMP Holloway, north London, on 11 January 2016. The prison closed last summer. She had a ligature around her neck made from a bed sheet.

Shortly before her death Reed had been top of a list of inmates waiting to be transferred to hospital. A letter to the Central and North West London healthcare NHS trust to start the process of getting her transferred to hospital was sent three days before her death.

In 2016 there were 22 deaths in women’s prisons in England and Wales – the highest number of female prison deaths since 1990. According to Ministry of Justice statistics, within the female prison estate there were 10 self-inflicted deaths at a rate of 2.6 per 1,000 prisoners in the year to March 2017. This was double the rate of 1.3 per 1,000 prisoners across both the male and female estates.

Coles added: “Serious mental health problems are endemic in women’s prisons, with deaths last year at an all-time high. They continue because of the failure of the governments to act. The legacy of Sarah’s death and the inhumane and degrading treatment she was subjected to must result in an end to the use of prison for women.

“The state’s responsibility for the deaths like Sarah’s goes beyond the prison walls and extends to failure to invest in specialist mental health services for women and provide alternatives to custody. More deaths will occur until we stop criminalising people in mental health crisis and invest in specialist community services for women.”

The inquest heard Reed was on remand for 90 days after she was charged with the assault on a psychiatric nurse in October 2015.

Prison officers and medical staff in C1, the prison’s mental health assessment wing, gave her a “low risk” rating despite writing in her records that day: “She is completely psychotic, aggressive towards staff, making comments about god and the devil. She started rolling around in the bed and screaming.”

Reed had been suffering from serious mental ill health since the death of her six-month old baby in 2003. She suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, emotional unstable personality disorder and an eating disorder. She spent many years in and out of mental health institutions and prisons.

Anti-psychotic medication she had previously been taking had been stopped on medical advice because of fears it could cause a heart attack.

Fellow prisoners gave evidence that she had complained about being bullied and one inmate heard her call out “they are going to kill me” and said she was becoming increasingly paranoid and was too ill to be in prison.

In a statement read out by the coroner at the opening of the inquest, Reed’s mother, Marylin Reed, paid tribute to her daughter. “Sarah was adored and loved by the whole of her family. She was very much treasured. Her death has been devastating for us.”

Care failings contributed to death of woman in prison, inquest finds

A jury at the inquest of Sarah Reed, a mentally ill prisoner at HMP Holloway who took her life at the jail last year, has identified serious shortcomings in her care.

Reed was in prison awaiting medical reports about whether she was mentally fit to plead after being charged with assaulting a nurse in a secure psychiatric unit. The reports found she was unfit to plead, but were not due to be finalised until three days after Reed killed herself.

The jury concluded that Reed killed herself at a time when the balance of her mind was disturbed, but they were unsure that she intended to do so. They said a failure in management of her medication and the failure to conclude the fitness to plead assessment in a timely manner contributed to her subsequent death. They also had concerns about suicide and self-harm report monitoring and believed that Reed did not receive adequate treatment in prison for her high levels of distress.

Deborah Coles, director of Inquest, a charity providing expertise on state-related deaths, condemned the fact that Reed was in prison at all, given her serious mental illness.

“Sarah Reed was a woman in torment, imprisoned for the sake of two medical assessments to confirm what was resoundingly clear, that she needed specialist care not prison. Her death was a result of multi-agency failures to protect a woman in crisis. Instead of providing her with adequate support, the prison treated her ill mental health as a discipline, control and containment issue,” Coles said.

The jury delivered its narrative verdict at the inquest at City of London coroner’s court after hearing almost three weeks of evidence before assistant coroner Peter Thornton QC.

Reed, 32, was found dead on her bed at HMP Holloway in north London on January 11 last year. The prison closed last summer. She had a ligature around her neck made from a bed sheet. Shortly before her death Reed was top of a list of inmates waiting to be transferred to hospital. A letter to the Central and North West London healthcare NHS trust to start the process of getting her transferred to hospital was sent three days before her death.

In 2016 there were a total of 22 deaths in women’s prisons in England and Wales – the highest number of female prison deaths since 1990. According to Ministry of Justice statistics, within the female prison estate there were 10 self-inflicted deaths at a rate of 2.6 per 1,000 prisoners in the year to March. This was double the rate of 1.3 per 1,000 prisoners across both the male and female estates.

Coles added: “Serious mental health problems are endemic in women’s prisons, with deaths last year at an all-time high. They continue because of the failure of the governments to act. The legacy of Sarah’s death and the inhumane and degrading treatment she was subjected to must result in an end to the use of prison for women.

“The state’s responsibility for the deaths like Sarah’s goes beyond the prison walls and extends to failure to invest in specialist mental health services for women and provide alternatives to custody. More deaths will occur until we stop criminalising people in mental health crisis and invest in specialist community services for women.”

The inquest heard Reed was on remand for 90 days after she was charged with the assault on a psychiatric nurse in October 2015.

Prison officers and medical staff in C1, the prison’s mental health assessment wing, gave her a “low risk” rating despite writing in her records that day: “She is completely psychotic, aggressive towards staff, making comments about God and the devil. She started rolling around in the bed and screaming.”

Reed had been suffering from serious mental ill health since the death of her six-month old baby in 2003. She suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, emotional unstable personality disorder and an eating disorder. She spent many years in and out of mental health institutions and prisons.

Anti-psychotic medication she had previously been taking had been stopped on medical advice because of fears it could cause a heart attack.

Fellow prisoners gave evidence that she had complained about being bullied and one inmate heard her call out “they are going to kill me” and said she was becoming increasingly paranoid and was too ill to be in prison.

In a statement read out by the coroner at the opening of the inquest, Reed’s mother, Marylin Reed, paid tribute to the daughter she lost. “Sarah was adored and loved by the whole of her family. She was very much treasured. Her death has been devastating for us.”

Half of pupils expelled from school have mental health issue, study finds

Half of all pupils expelled from school are suffering from a recognised mental health problem, according to a study.

Those who are permanently excluded find themselves at a significant disadvantage, with only one in a hundred going on to attain five good GCSEs, which are often used as a benchmark of academic success.

The majority will end up in prison, says the study by the Institute for Public Policy Research, which estimates that of the 86,000-strong prison population, more then 54,000 were excluded at school.

The IPPR says its research lays bare the “broken system” facing excluded pupils. It flags up high levels of mental health issues among permanently excluded students – at least one in two, compared with one in 50 pupils in the wider population.

The thinktank also highlights the disadvantages such children face, as those excluded are four times more likely to grow up in poverty and twice as likely to be living in care. They are also seven times more likely to have special educational needs than those who are not excluded, the report claims.

After exclusion, the study says there is a downward spiral of underachievement, with teachers in schools catering for excluded pupils twice as likely to have no educational qualifications.

Kiran Gill, an IPPR associate fellow and founder of The Difference, which works to improve mental health provision for excluded pupils, described the system as “burningly unjust”.

She said: “Theresa May says she is committed to improving the mental health of young people. Addressing the most vulnerable children being thrown out of England’s schools is a good place to start. Because unequal treatment of mental health may be an injustice, but the discrimination of school exclusions is a crime.

“If the government is serious about real action on mental health, there needs to be dedicated funding and thought through solutions rather than sticking plasters on the symptoms of the problem.”

The IPPR research was published before the government’s latest annual figures on permanent and fixed period exclusions from schools in England in 2015-16, which is scheduled to be released on Thursday.

Responding to the report, the Department for Education said any decision to exclude should be lawful, reasonable and fair, and should only be used as a last resort in response to serious breaches of a school’s behaviour policy.

“This government is committed to working with local authorities and schools to ensure children in alternative provision receive a high quality education,” a DfE spokesperson said.

“We are strengthening the links between schools and NHS mental health staff and have announced plans for every secondary school to be offered mental health first aid training. Later this year we will publish a green paper with proposals for further improving mental health services.”

  • In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found here

Half of pupils expelled from school have mental health issue, study finds

Half of all pupils expelled from school are suffering from a recognised mental health problem, according to a study.

Those who are permanently excluded find themselves at a significant disadvantage, with only one in a hundred going on to attain five good GCSEs, which are often used as a benchmark of academic success.

The majority will end up in prison, says the study by the Institute for Public Policy Research, which estimates that of the 86,000-strong prison population, more then 54,000 were excluded at school.

The IPPR says its research lays bare the “broken system” facing excluded pupils. It flags up high levels of mental health issues among permanently excluded students – at least one in two, compared with one in 50 pupils in the wider population.

The thinktank also highlights the disadvantages such children face, as those excluded are four times more likely to grow up in poverty and twice as likely to be living in care. They are also seven times more likely to have special educational needs than those who are not excluded, the report claims.

After exclusion, the study says there is a downward spiral of underachievement, with teachers in schools catering for excluded pupils twice as likely to have no educational qualifications.

Kiran Gill, an IPPR associate fellow and founder of The Difference, which works to improve mental health provision for excluded pupils, described the system as “burningly unjust”.

She said: “Theresa May says she is committed to improving the mental health of young people. Addressing the most vulnerable children being thrown out of England’s schools is a good place to start. Because unequal treatment of mental health may be an injustice, but the discrimination of school exclusions is a crime.

“If the government is serious about real action on mental health, there needs to be dedicated funding and thought through solutions rather than sticking plasters on the symptoms of the problem.”

The IPPR research was published before the government’s latest annual figures on permanent and fixed period exclusions from schools in England in 2015-16, which is scheduled to be released on Thursday.

Responding to the report, the Department for Education said any decision to exclude should be lawful, reasonable and fair, and should only be used as a last resort in response to serious breaches of a school’s behaviour policy.

“This government is committed to working with local authorities and schools to ensure children in alternative provision receive a high quality education,” a DfE spokesperson said.

“We are strengthening the links between schools and NHS mental health staff and have announced plans for every secondary school to be offered mental health first aid training. Later this year we will publish a green paper with proposals for further improving mental health services.”

  • In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found here

Half of pupils expelled from school have mental health issue, study finds

Half of all pupils expelled from school are suffering from a recognised mental health problem, according to a study.

Those who are permanently excluded find themselves at a significant disadvantage, with only one in a hundred going on to attain five good GCSEs, which are often used as a benchmark of academic success.

The majority will end up in prison, says the study by the Institute for Public Policy Research, which estimates that of the 86,000-strong prison population, more then 54,000 were excluded at school.

The IPPR says its research lays bare the “broken system” facing excluded pupils. It flags up high levels of mental health issues among permanently excluded students – at least one in two, compared with one in 50 pupils in the wider population.

The thinktank also highlights the disadvantages such children face, as those excluded are four times more likely to grow up in poverty and twice as likely to be living in care. They are also seven times more likely to have special educational needs than those who are not excluded, the report claims.

After exclusion, the study says there is a downward spiral of underachievement, with teachers in schools catering for excluded pupils twice as likely to have no educational qualifications.

Kiran Gill, an IPPR associate fellow and founder of The Difference, which works to improve mental health provision for excluded pupils, described the system as “burningly unjust”.

She said: “Theresa May says she is committed to improving the mental health of young people. Addressing the most vulnerable children being thrown out of England’s schools is a good place to start. Because unequal treatment of mental health may be an injustice, but the discrimination of school exclusions is a crime.

“If the government is serious about real action on mental health, there needs to be dedicated funding and thought through solutions rather than sticking plasters on the symptoms of the problem.”

The IPPR research was published before the government’s latest annual figures on permanent and fixed period exclusions from schools in England in 2015-16, which is scheduled to be released on Thursday.

Responding to the report, the Department for Education said any decision to exclude should be lawful, reasonable and fair, and should only be used as a last resort in response to serious breaches of a school’s behaviour policy.

“This government is committed to working with local authorities and schools to ensure children in alternative provision receive a high quality education,” a DfE spokesperson said.

“We are strengthening the links between schools and NHS mental health staff and have announced plans for every secondary school to be offered mental health first aid training. Later this year we will publish a green paper with proposals for further improving mental health services.”

  • In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found here

Half of pupils expelled from school have mental health issue, study finds

Half of all pupils expelled from school are suffering from a recognised mental health problem, according to a study.

Those who are permanently excluded find themselves at a significant disadvantage, with only one in a hundred going on to attain five good GCSEs, which are often used as a benchmark of academic success.

The majority will end up in prison, says the study by the Institute for Public Policy Research, which estimates that of the 86,000-strong prison population, more then 54,000 were excluded at school.

The IPPR says its research lays bare the “broken system” facing excluded pupils. It flags up high levels of mental health issues among permanently excluded students – at least one in two, compared with one in 50 pupils in the wider population.

The thinktank also highlights the disadvantages such children face, as those excluded are four times more likely to grow up in poverty and twice as likely to be living in care. They are also seven times more likely to have special educational needs than those who are not excluded, the report claims.

After exclusion, the study says there is a downward spiral of underachievement, with teachers in schools catering for excluded pupils twice as likely to have no educational qualifications.

Kiran Gill, an IPPR associate fellow and founder of The Difference, which works to improve mental health provision for excluded pupils, described the system as “burningly unjust”.

She said: “Theresa May says she is committed to improving the mental health of young people. Addressing the most vulnerable children being thrown out of England’s schools is a good place to start. Because unequal treatment of mental health may be an injustice, but the discrimination of school exclusions is a crime.

“If the government is serious about real action on mental health, there needs to be dedicated funding and thought through solutions rather than sticking plasters on the symptoms of the problem.”

The IPPR research was published before the government’s latest annual figures on permanent and fixed period exclusions from schools in England in 2015-16, which is scheduled to be released on Thursday.

Responding to the report, the Department for Education said any decision to exclude should be lawful, reasonable and fair, and should only be used as a last resort in response to serious breaches of a school’s behaviour policy.

“This government is committed to working with local authorities and schools to ensure children in alternative provision receive a high quality education,” a DfE spokesperson said.

“We are strengthening the links between schools and NHS mental health staff and have announced plans for every secondary school to be offered mental health first aid training. Later this year we will publish a green paper with proposals for further improving mental health services.”

  • In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found here

Half of pupils expelled from school have mental health issue, study finds

Half of all pupils expelled from school are suffering from a recognised mental health problem, according to a study.

Those who are permanently excluded find themselves at a significant disadvantage, with only one in a hundred going on to attain five good GCSEs, which are often used as a benchmark of academic success.

The majority will end up in prison, says the study by the Institute for Public Policy Research, which estimates that of the 86,000-strong prison population, more then 54,000 were excluded at school.

The IPPR says its research lays bare the “broken system” facing excluded pupils. It flags up high levels of mental health issues among permanently excluded students – at least one in two, compared with one in 50 pupils in the wider population.

The thinktank also highlights the disadvantages such children face, as those excluded are four times more likely to grow up in poverty and twice as likely to be living in care. They are also seven times more likely to have special educational needs than those who are not excluded, the report claims.

After exclusion, the study says there is a downward spiral of underachievement, with teachers in schools catering for excluded pupils twice as likely to have no educational qualifications.

Kiran Gill, an IPPR associate fellow and founder of The Difference, which works to improve mental health provision for excluded pupils, described the system as “burningly unjust”.

She said: “Theresa May says she is committed to improving the mental health of young people. Addressing the most vulnerable children being thrown out of England’s schools is a good place to start. Because unequal treatment of mental health may be an injustice, but the discrimination of school exclusions is a crime.

“If the government is serious about real action on mental health, there needs to be dedicated funding and thought through solutions rather than sticking plasters on the symptoms of the problem.”

The IPPR research was published before the government’s latest annual figures on permanent and fixed period exclusions from schools in England in 2015-16, which is scheduled to be released on Thursday.

Responding to the report, the Department for Education said any decision to exclude should be lawful, reasonable and fair, and should only be used as a last resort in response to serious breaches of a school’s behaviour policy.

“This government is committed to working with local authorities and schools to ensure children in alternative provision receive a high quality education,” a DfE spokesperson said.

“We are strengthening the links between schools and NHS mental health staff and have announced plans for every secondary school to be offered mental health first aid training. Later this year we will publish a green paper with proposals for further improving mental health services.”

  • In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found here

Half of pupils expelled from school have mental health issue, study finds

Half of all pupils expelled from school are suffering from a recognised mental health problem, according to a study.

Those who are permanently excluded find themselves at a significant disadvantage, with only one in a hundred going on to attain five good GCSEs, which are often used as a benchmark of academic success.

The majority will end up in prison, says the study by the Institute for Public Policy Research, which estimates that of the 86,000-strong prison population, more then 54,000 were excluded at school.

The IPPR says its research lays bare the “broken system” facing excluded pupils. It flags up high levels of mental health issues among permanently excluded students – at least one in two, compared with one in 50 pupils in the wider population.

The thinktank also highlights the disadvantages such children face, as those excluded are four times more likely to grow up in poverty and twice as likely to be living in care. They are also seven times more likely to have special educational needs than those who are not excluded, the report claims.

After exclusion, the study says there is a downward spiral of underachievement, with teachers in schools catering for excluded pupils twice as likely to have no educational qualifications.

Kiran Gill, an IPPR associate fellow and founder of The Difference, which works to improve mental health provision for excluded pupils, described the system as “burningly unjust”.

She said: “Theresa May says she is committed to improving the mental health of young people. Addressing the most vulnerable children being thrown out of England’s schools is a good place to start. Because unequal treatment of mental health may be an injustice, but the discrimination of school exclusions is a crime.

“If the government is serious about real action on mental health, there needs to be dedicated funding and thought through solutions rather than sticking plasters on the symptoms of the problem.”

The IPPR research was published before the government’s latest annual figures on permanent and fixed period exclusions from schools in England in 2015-16, which is scheduled to be released on Thursday.

Responding to the report, the Department for Education said any decision to exclude should be lawful, reasonable and fair, and should only be used as a last resort in response to serious breaches of a school’s behaviour policy.

“This government is committed to working with local authorities and schools to ensure children in alternative provision receive a high quality education,” a DfE spokesperson said.

“We are strengthening the links between schools and NHS mental health staff and have announced plans for every secondary school to be offered mental health first aid training. Later this year we will publish a green paper with proposals for further improving mental health services.”

  • In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found here

Suicides by young people peak in exam season, report finds

Suicides among children and young adults peak at the beginning of exam season, it has emerged, adding to fears that pressure to get good results is harming their mental health.

Exams are sometimes the final straw that lead to someone under 25 taking their own life, according to a major inquiry. While experts pointed out that the causes of suicide are always complex, they said academic problems could play a significant role.

In England and Wales on average, 96 people aged under 25 take their own lives every year in April and May, while the next highest number – 88 – do so in September, when new students start at university.

Analysis of evidence heard at inquests shows that 63 (43%) of the 145 suicides among those aged under 20 in 2014-15 were experiencing academic pressures of different sorts before their death. Almost one in three – 46 (32%) – had exams at the time, or coming up soon, or were waiting for exam results.

A higher proportion of those aged 20-24 were facing “academic pressures overall” before their death (47%). However, that figure represents seven of the only 15 suicides in that age group among young people who were in education at the time.

Stephen Habgood, the chairman of Papyrus, a charity that tries to prevent under-35s taking their own lives, said youth suicide was a devastating social phenomena.

“We are particularly concerned about the pressures on young students. Transition from a settled home life to university, where young people feel a pressure to succeed, face changes in their circle of friends and feel the impact of financial difficulties, can put extreme pressure on a young person,” Habgood said.

He called on universities to reinstate counselling services for distressed students, which have been cut.

“We know that stress at school has a big impact on mental health, and this research suggests that it can be a significant factor when young people feel suicidal. Although the causes of suicide are multiple and complex, worries around exams can add to the pressure on those who are already struggling to cope,” said Sarah Brennan, the chief executive of Young Minds.

“Ministers should rebalance the education system to ensure that students’ wellbeing is given as much priority as their academic performance,” she added.

A decade-long fall in the number of youth suicides has reversed in recent years to the extent that more young people die that way than from any other cause, warned the authors of a University of Manchester report into suicide by children and young people. In all 922 under-25s took their own lives in England and Wales during 2014 and 2015. Suicide now accounts for 14% of all deaths in 10 to 19-year-olds and 21% of 20 to 34-year-olds.

However, the UK still has a relatively low rate of suicide by children and young people compared with other countries. Inside the UK, Scotland and Northern Ireland have more such deaths per capita than England or Wales.

Suicide rates fell from between five and six per 100,000 in the early 2000s to a low of 3.1 per 100,000 in 2010. But they rose again to 5.5 per 100,000 in 2015, Office of National Statistics data shows.

Around 125 youth suicides a year occur soon after the person involved has experienced a bereavement. One in four (25%) of under-20s and 28% of 20 to 24-year-olds had lost a relative, partner, friend or acquaintance around a year or more beforehand. In 11% of suicides among under-20s, the person who those involved had lost had also taken their own life.

“Suicide is the leading cause of death in young people in England and Wales. Although there is no single cause, bereavement was an important theme in many of the deaths we examined”, said Prof Louis Appleby, the inquiry’s director.

Of the 922 deaths Appleby and his team looked into, 708 (77%) had been judged at a coroner’s inquest to have been suicide, while the other 214 (23%) had ended with an undetermined or open conclusion.

Young people who have been bereaved need greater support to reduce the risk of them killing themselves, say the authors, who also want colleges and universities to give students’ psychological health a higher priority. Agencies who are meant to help young people are “poor” at recognising the risk of suicide among them, and need to improve, they add.

In the UK and Ireland, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. Papyrus are contactable on 0800 068 41 41 or by texting 07786 209 697, or emailing pat@papyrus-uk.org. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found here.

Doctors using Snapchat to send patient scans to each other, panel finds

Doctors are using Snapchat to send patient scans to each other, a panel of health and tech experts has found, concluding the “digital revolution has largely bypassed the NHS”.

Clinicians use camera apps to record particular details of patient information in a convenient format, the panel said in a report, describing it as “clearly an insecure, risky, and non-auditable way of operating, and cannot continue”.

It also notes that the NHS still holds the “dubious” title of the world’s largest purchaser of fax machines.

The report was commissioned by DeepMind Health (DMH), which is owned by Google, for an annual independent review of the company’s work. DMH’s work involves introducing and testing new technology for the NHS.

This week the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found that London’s Royal Free hospital failed to comply with the Data Protection Act when it handed over personal data of 1.6 million patients to DMH.

In its review, the panel, chaired by the former Liberal Democrat MP Dr Julian Huppert, said: “The digital revolution has largely bypassed the NHS, which, in 2017, still retains the dubious title of being the world’s largest purchaser of fax machines.

“Many records are insecure, paper-based systems which are unwieldy and difficult to use. Seeing the difference that technology makes in their own lives, clinicians are already manufacturing their own technical fixes.

“They may use Snapchat to send scans from one clinician to another or camera apps to record particular details of patient information in a convenient format.

“It is difficult to criticise these individuals, given that this makes their job possible. However, this is clearly an insecure, risky, and non-auditable way of operating, and cannot continue.”

The panel also features Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of the medical journal Lancet, Prof Donal O’Donoghue, a consultant renal physician at Salford Royal hospital and Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).

The ICO ruling against the Royal Free hospital was related to its plans with DMH to create the healthcare app Streams, an alert, diagnosis and detection system for acute kidney injury. The ICO’s ruling was largely based on the fact that the app continued to undergo testing after patient data was transferred. Patients, it said, were not adequately informed that their data would be used as part of the test.

Harsher words were reserved for DMH’s public and patient engagement: specifically, that the company has not adequately reassured the public about the nature of its relationship to Google.

“As far as we can ascertain, DMH does not share its data with Google, yet the public perception that this might be the case, now or in the future, will be difficult to overcome and has the potential to delay or undermine work that could be of great potential benefit to patients,” the report said.

The panel had one final criticism of DeepMind Health: its members would like to be paid for their work. Noting the “significant and complex workload” required to oversee the company, the report recommended the introduction of an honorarium for each member, paid in exchange for the time commitment, alongside an independent appointment process.