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Mental health care in prisons still a lottery

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Prison mental health services in England face a postcode lottery in funding, according to a new report.

The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, London, together with Lincoln University researchers, found that prison inreach teams get £300 in funding for every prisoner in England, about one-third of what they need to offer the same level of service as community mental health services.

Funding is twice as high in London and in Yorkshire and the North East than it is in either the East Midlands or the South West, the report says. The average prison inreach team now has four staff. To help all the prisoners who need mental healthcare this needs to increase to 12.

Sean Duggan, Sainsbury Centre director of prisons and criminal justice, said: ‘Many inreach teams are struggling to offer a decent service in the face of inadequate funding and very high levels of need among prisoners. As a result they can do little more than assess people and try to prepare them for life in the community.’

‘We need to see a major boost in spending on inreach across the country, especially in those areas that are falling behind. National guidance on inreach team staffing would help to reduce the gap and improve services,’ he added.

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