Friday, 22 April 2016

Black man, victim of vicious racist attack and institutional racism dies.

The Tragic Case of Tatenda Kamasho: Black man victim of vicious racist attack and institutional racism dies a preventable death.

#TatendaKamasho #BlackLivesMatte© Lee Jasper

The reality of the full and nuanced effects of racism on the day-to-day quality of lives of black people in Britain is rarely recognised. The intersection between institutional racism, the criminal justice system, NHS and mental health services has been one of troubling concern for many years.

Cases such as Rocky Bennet, Sean Rigg and Sarah Reed provide tragic testimony to this issue, a matter I’ve written about here, previously. 

The case of 23 year African British born man, Tatenda Kamasho is yet another tragic case.

Tatenda had previously been the victim of vicious racist attack that took place in Northampton in 2012, when aged just 20. Whilst waiting in the queue at the local McDonalds when 18yr old Jordace Sinclair demanded Tatenda stopped talking.

He then physically attacked Tatenda, taking a knife and stabbing him so hard the blade broke. Sinclair then proceeded to viciously batter him and eventually bit a chunk from Tatenda’s cheek.
Following the attack, the cheek wound became increasingly infected turning septic and eventually resulted in Tatenda being induced into a five-day coma.

Once awake, Tatenda’s mental health deteriorated to such an extent that he began to suffer hallucinations and became deeply psychotic. Prior to this had no history of mental illness, nor is here any such history within his family.

The trauma of this racist attack, combined with the septicaemia infection had resulted in a serious deterioration of this young man's mental health.

Over the course of the next four years received treatment for his illness, he and his family were hopeful that he'd make a full recovery.

His parents, mother, Mrs. Praexedis Moyo-Kamasho a Registered Nurse and father, Mr. Cosmas Kamasho a Chartered Surveyor residing in Hanwell, West London, fully supported their son through this difficult time.

Tatenda managed to secure himself a place in a supported living accommodation project in January of this year. He was visiting his family at the weekends and in March was preparing to celebrate Mother's Day at home with the family.

On Saturday, 5th March parents received a phone for from the project saying that Tatenda was physically unwell and that an ambulance had been called. On reporting Tatenda’s symptoms to the operator, the support worker was told that no ambulance was needed and that she should continue to observe his condition.

The parents immediately phoned Tatenda and he reported that he had a sore throat and had not eaten well for four days. When they arrived at the project, they noted that he looked weak and appeared not to be able to swallow properly. He was so unsteady on his feet, that his father had to help him use the bathroom. Once he settled, they bought him some food from a local takeaway and sat as he slowly ate the food.

Failure to act could have cost Tatenda his life
They went home, looking forward to seeing him the next day. On Mothering Sunday, 6th March his parents called Tatenda who did not answer his phone then they called the support workers who told them that his condition had again deteriorated. On attending the project they saw their son in great pain and unable to move.

With the parents in attendance and with Mum being a qualified Nurse backing up her concerns, the support worker tried again to get an ambulance and during the course of this conversation,

Mrs Kamasho intervened and spoke directly to the operator directly.

Intense discussions took place as Mum sought to convince the operator that her son's condition warranted an ambulance and was very serious. The operator took a different view and simply refused to dispatch an ambulance.

After about twenty five minutes of deliberation, and the family reporting more serious symptoms, then and only then did the operator, conceded and agreed to send an emergency mobile paramedic.

Once the emergency paramedic finally arrived, his view was that was there was nothing wrong with Tatenda and that ‘he has a mental health issue, he’s just seeking attention’ When Tatenda heard these comments he requested “Please sir, do not argue with my parents as they are only trying to help me.’ The paramedic then sarcastically replied ‘Look he even talks!’ implying there was nothing wrong with Tatenda.

However once he had performed his medical checks he immediately found that Tatenda’s blood sugar was incredibly high. It was at that point that he called for an ambulance immediately. Once at Ealing Hospital it was clear his condition was life threatening.

Eventually, the hospital stabilised his condition. For a time it appeared as if he was making good progress and at one point he even managed to sit up and eat yoghurt with his mother.

Parents, now somewhat relived and reassured, left him around 10:30pm that night and made their way home. At 4:45am  on the 7th March 2016 they received a phone call from the hospital stating that his condition had deteriorated. By the time the parents got to the hospital, staff were already trying to revive Tatenda. However at around 6:45am their wonderful son was declared dead.

The family were shocked and devastated. They however are in no doubt that Tatenda’s death was completely avoidable. They believe and I have come to the same conclusion, that had London Ambulance Service (LAS) responded professionally and properly assessed the seriousness of his condition, their son would be alive today.

They believe that NHS LAS operators repeated failure to correctly assess his condition, resulted in tragic delay. His treatment they believe, was informed by a stereotypical view of mental health patients and the fact that Tatenda was a black man, explains the total lack of professionalism and compassion that eventually resulted in a lethal delay in treatment, that contributed to their son's death.

The family are now awaiting pathology reports that will hopefully reveal the cause of death

Mrs. Praexedis Moyo-Kamasho said,

‘My sons death was entirely avoidable.

'As a trained medical professional I was appalled at the blaze and inhumane attitude of the NHS operator and the Paramedic who attended’

Mr. Cosmas Kamasho told me,

My son, Tatenda needed urgent medical attention and that was delayed by the incompetence and inhumanity of NHS Operators who consistently denied my son right to treatment and in doing so, grossly aggravated my son’s condition.

We want answers as to the cause of death and a full transcript of all the calls, that were made by the support worker and my wife.

The whole extended family and our friends are in deep shock. All we want is justice for our son and to prevent this from happening to others.”

The family have written to London Ambulance Service and outlining their anger and concernsThey demanded that Tatenda case be independently investigated and that the Ambulance Services be held to account.

The tardy and perfunctory response they received didn’t even offer the family that most basic of courtesies. The letter reproduced here was not even signed by a named individual.

There was neither simple acknowledgement of their son’s death nor an offer of condolence.

This is a shameful response that has simply added to the family’s acute distress.
The family reached out to me to call for public support fore their search for answers and help raise awareness that so that it does not continue happening to someone else.

Mrs Pra Moyo-Kamasho is available and keen for press interviews.