Prisoners should receive health care in line with the general population whilst in prison.
This week, guidelines issued by the National Guideline Centre have recommended that those in prison should receive care to the same standard as the general public; as healthcare provisions for those in prison are often insufficient for the prisoners’ needs.
Professor Mark Baker, director of the National Guideline Centre, has stressed how important it is to recognise and treat prisoner’s health needs whilst they are detained, in order to ease the burden on community services after they are released.
The guidelines include a suggested healthcare assessment upon admission with a test for TB as standard, easily accessible advice on exercise, diet and smoking, as well as providing that condoms and lubricants are available in a discreet manner. “Condoms are made available in prisons but currently you have to make an appointment with a doctor, whereas outside prison that is not the case at all,” says Baker.
The new guidelines have also recognised the growth in the group of prisoners aged 60 and over. Recent figures find that this group now consists of 4,400 prisoners in England and Wales, nearly three times the amount in 2002. Of course the swell in this age group brings its own difficulties, including diagnosing, treating and monitoring chronic health diseases, and ensuring the continuity of care when a prisoner is transferred. This increasingly includes “long-term conditions such as heart disease, cancer and dementia,” according to Adam Horner, a national lead nurse at Care UK.
A spokesman from the Prison Reform Trust has expressed their anticipation of the guidelines, saying that “too often [prisoners’] health needs go unrecognised and unmet…[when] ensuring that people get the physical, mental health and social care [that] they need is vital.”
If prison healthcare services have failed you or someone you know, we are here to help. Swain and Co have an advanced Clinical Negligence department who regularly deal with clients who have received substandard medical treatment. If you, a family member or friend has received substandard medical treatment, contact our team on 02392 483322.