Headlines: April 9th, 1999

The NHS and the Prison Service have formed a partnership to improve the healthcare provided to prisoners. The partnership is an example of joined up service delivery and joined up policy making. A Working Group looking into prisoner’s health care found that the service did not match NHS standards. Reasons for this poor performance included lack of strategic direction and difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff.

The new partnership arrangements will involve cross departmental working leading to better health care services. NHS expertise in assessing healthcare needs and providing expert care will be combined with the Prison Service understanding of the client group and the custodial context.

A joint Prison Health Policy Unit will give strategic direction to the service. The change process will be led by a joint task force.

This initiative links with social exclusion policy, because custody offers an important opportunity for prisoners to improve their health and to adopt healthy lifestyles that contribute to their chances of rehabilitation. It also supports crime and disorder policy because improved healthcare, especially for prisoners with mental health problems, can be expected to reduce re-offending.