A PRISONER died from severe burns after accidentally setting himself on fire while smoking ‘zombie’ drug Spice.

The inmate, at Worcestershire prison HMP Hewell, "might have been saved" were it not for an "unacceptable" delay in responding to his cell bell, a report by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman revealed.

The report said the 31-year-old prisoner, who had been jailed for robbery in HMP Hewell in Redditch, was found 16 minutes after raising the alarm with his clothes burnt off and severe burns to most of his body.

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Ombudsman Sue McAllister said the delay was "unacceptable" and more than three times longer than the target response time of five minutes.

A burns specialist who treated the prisoner said the delay in responding “definitely affected the outcome.”

The report said the prisoner may not have reacted initially because he was under the influence of the psychoactive substance.

The prisoner was taken to hospital but died two days later.

Disciplinary proceedings were started against a prison officer, who resigned. A hearing conducted in his absence concluded the officer would have been sacked.

Mrs McAllister said: "It was a very tragic and distressing incident. The number of drug-related incidents on any one day can be significant. In this case, it was dismissed as just another drugs related-incident.

"I'm not saying there is a culture that it [the cell bell] doesn't matter, but I think there is a sense sometimes that it is overwhelming."

The crisis-hit prison was described as “squalid, demeaning and depressing” in a damning report by inspectors last month.

Some facilities at the prison, which is in special measures, were described as ‘the worst he had seen’ during an unannounced inspection by Peter Clarke of HM Inspectorate of Prisons.

Almost 70 per cent of prisoners said it was easy to obtain drugs and almost a quarter said they had developed a drug habit whilst in prison.

Half of the scores awarded across the two sites were ‘poor’ - the lowest level the inspector could give.