Prisoners have not benefited from healthcare being transferred to the NHS, RCN finds

Written by Tom Freeman on 25 November 2016 in News

Royal College of Nursing calls for new strategic focus on health of prisoners

Prison - credit PA

Transferring healthcare for prisoners from the Scottish Prison Service to the NHS has not improved health outcomes, a new report from Scotland’s nursing body.

The Royal College of Nursing has published a review of the service, the first since the NHS took over responsibility five years ago.

The report reveals “significant concerns” over the mental health of prisoners and the management of long-term conditions. “Continuity of care remains a real challenge,” it says.


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Nursing morale has also suffered since the transfer, with 72 per cent who were previously employed by the SPS reporting higher sickness days and vacancies.

The report advocates “a renewed strategic and practical focus” on improving the health of people in prison.

RCN Scotland director Theresa Fyffe called for “open political debate” about the findings.

“People in prison have some of the worst health in our population and are often disengaged from traditional health services before and after any prison term. Prison offers a unique opportunity to turn around the health outcomes and life chances of individuals,” she said.

Alan Staff, chief executive of rehabilitation support organisation Apex Scotland, said the ambition to integrate care pathways had not been met.

“For mental health matters there still seems to be either a lack of resource or an unwillingness to engage with those deemed ‘more bad than mad’,” he said.

Scottish Labour Inequalities spokeswoman Monica Lennon has lodged a Holyrood motion in response to the report.

“These are people who are already vulnerable and at risk of reoffending so the Scottish Government must respond to the RCN’s call for a renewed focus on the health of the prison population,” she said.

There are just under 7,900 prisoners in Scotland, typically with poorer health than the general population.



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