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The inside story on prison health care

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 04 January 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:59
  1. Penny A Mellor, advocate (
  1. Coven, Staffordshire

    I can speak from first hand experience about the lack of health care within the prison service, albeit from the perspective of the much over populated female estate.

    The job of being a prison doctor is hard. Many inmates are drug users or self harmers. They pull fast ones to get legal prescriptions to alleviate the gnawing need for heroin or crack cocaine. They try to get sick notes so they do not have to work. However, not all prisoners are addicts or skivers, yet we are treated as if we are. On the “out,” as it is colloquially known in prison, a general practitioner doesn't have to ascertain physically that someone has been up all night vomiting—his or her word is accepted as the truth. Unfortunately, someone residing at Her Majesty's pleasure is and always will be an inmate first …

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