Doctors working in prisons

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.324.7335.440 (Published 23 February 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:440

Prison service to have more links with outside bodies including NHS

  1. Luke Birmingham, senior lecturer in forensic psychiatry
  1. University of Southampton, Community Clinical Sciences Research Division, Knowle, Fareham, Hampshire PO17 5NA

    Until very recently responsibility for health care in prisons in England and Wales lay with the home office, the government department responsible for the criminal justice system. Under this arrangement the National Health Service, the provider of statutory health care for the general public, was not obliged to provide a service for people in prison.

    The Prison Service has struggled to cope with the huge healthcare burden imposed by sick prisoners, particularly those with problems related to mental health and substance misuse, and it has been repeatedly criticised for providing inferior health care.1 Previous reports focusing on doctors working in prisons found that recruitment was a real problem, prison doctors were inadequately trained, and they were working beyond the limits of their ability. 2 3

    Pressure for a modern day reform of health care in prisons increased significantly following the publication of Patient or Prisoner?4 in which the chief inspector of prisons …

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