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Report calls for prison services to match prisoners' health needs

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A report has called for prison healthcare to be reformed in order to meet the needs of prisoners.

A joint report found healthcare services did not always meet the needs of prisoners.

Poor planning and assessment of health needs of prisoners means that services were often unsuited and staffing is inadequate, said the report by the Healthcare Commission and HM Inspectorate of Prisons.

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.’

Dame Anne Owers, Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: ‘This report shows the value of the joint approach to inspection of prison healthcare, with the Healthcare Commission inspecting commissioning and the Prisons Inspectorate inspecting delivery on the ground.’

According to the report, only four of the 18 PCTs assessed in the report had conducted recent assessments of needs for healthcare in prison, although six said they had assessments underway.

Half of the PCTs interviewed did not formally measure whether prisoners had equal access to healthcare as the general population.

And 13 out of 18 PCTs said they did not commission court diversion schemes, however three of these PCTs said schemes were in place, but not commissioned by them.

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