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NHS should improve healthcare in prison

12th February 2009

The NHS has been urged to provide better healthcare for adults in the prison system.

Prison Wire

The call comes jointly from the Healthcare Commission and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP), which have published a joint report on the commissioning of healthcare services in prisons.

Both organisations said that commissioning of healthcare services by primary care trusts (PCTs) was variable and did not always meet the health needs of individual prisoners.

They pointed to a lack of planning and poor assessment of the health needs of prisoners and few PCTs commissioning court diversion schemes, which may help to divert offenders with mental health problems out of the criminal justice system and into appropriate health services.

Anna Walker, Healthcare Commission Chief Executive, said: "We know that prisoners generally have poorer health than the general population. Statistics show that 90% have a mental health problem, a problem with drugs and alcohol, or both.

"It is clear from our work that, while improvements have been made, healthcare for offenders is not what it should be - for adults and young people. This must change, not just because it is the right thing to do for individuals, but because it is the right thing to do if we are serious about addressing the causes of crime."

Dame Anne Owers, Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: "This report shows the value of the joint approach to inspection of prison healthcare.  Together, we can identify improvements and gaps, and ensure that recommendations for improvement are effectively followed up, either with the PCT or the prison."

 

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