Prison healthcare suffers as funding drops

2 Nov 18

Prisons operating on a “shoestring” budget are failing to provide sufficient healthcare for inmates, MPs have found.

Budget reductions in recent years have lead to deteriorating standards inside England’s prisons, hampering access to good healthcare, according to a report from the health and social care committee.

The report the demand for healthcare and other related needs in the underfunded prison system is “massive”.

“Services are trying to do as much as they can within the resources available. However, some services are operating on a shoestring,” it said.

The committee noted that staff shortages have forced overstretched prisons to run “restricted regimes” limiting access to health and care services in and outside of prisons.

Prisoners’ health problems are exacerbated by limited opportunities for physical activity – only 16% of prisoners report being unlocked for the recommended minimum of 10 hours per day, the report said.

Low staffing levels are also a concern. Staff working in English prisons fell from 25,000 in 2010 to just over 18,000 in 2014, the report said.

Committee chair Sarah Wollaston, said: “Too many prisons remain unsafe and unsanitary.

“We need urgent assurances from government that it will urgently address the very serious situation in prisons with a whole systems approach underpinned by sufficient funding and attention to the prison and healthcare workforce.”

The whole systems approach put forward by the committee includes a well-trained workforce, strong local relationships, a collaborative approach to commissioning and a rigorous inspections.

In September, the government took back control of HMP Birmingham from the private sector after a damning inspector’s report.

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