THE grieving family of a former Oxbridge student who died while being held by staff at a Huddersfield psychiatric unit have called for a complete ban on restraints in the prone position.

Daniel Sutcliffe, 33, of Edgerton Road, Huddersfield, who had battled with mental health problems for 12 years, suffered a heart attack while being restrained by nurses at St Luke's Hospital, Crosland Moor in February 2002.

The jury inquest in Bradford was told that Mr Sutcliffe who had a history of self-harm had been struggling like a "raging bull" while up to five nurses were trying to stop him from banging his head against a hard floor.

After the jury returned their narrative verdict yesterday, coroner Roger Whittaker said that he made no criticism of the staff or the restraint hold, adding: "There can never be a totally safe management of such a situation."

The hearing was told that restraint in the prone position - face down - can increase the risk of cardiac arrest. In a statement released after the hearing Mr Sutcliffe's family called for a complete ban on the practice.

"We make a plea to the authorities that the use of restraint whilst in the prone position be completely banned in all settings," they said.

The family added: "Daniel was a fantastically unique person who is very much missed by his family and friends.

"He was a much loved and loving father, son and brother. Those who knew him well have many fond and humorous memories to share.

"Daniel was unfortunate to suffer significant mental health problems throughout most of his adult life.

"We are saddened that in addition to struggling with a psychotic disorder for 12 years, Daniel was unable to achieve peace or dignity in the manner in which he died."

The hearing was told that life support equipment was not immediately to hand and that the ambulance arrived without a trained paramedic.

Mr Whittaker said: "Although steps have been taken to provide life support equipment in every unit I shall be writing to the trust (South West Yorkshire Mental Health Trust) to indicate that every unit should have available a responsible doctor well versed and able to use all forms of basic and advanced resuscitation techniques and equipment.

"I shall also be writing to the ambulance service to indicate that there's no point in dispatching to a cardiac arrest call units which are not capable of providing both basic and advanced forms of life support and should be equipped with appropriate equipment and staff."

The jury returned a narrative verdict which read: "Daniel was suffering from an acute deterioration of his long standing mental illness and was being restrained whilst extremely agitated and attempting to harm himself further.

"The immense force with which he was resisting restraint by staff, some of whom were inexperienced, the fact that he was in the prone position, the fact that his neck was over the edge of the mattress and the medication he had received all combined to cause sudden cardiac arrest.

"He received basic life support following his arrest but did not receive advanced life support.

"Neither the staff at the Beaumont Unit nor the attending ambulance crew were able to deploy such techniques. If advanced life support had been given it would have made no difference to the final outcome."

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