Intended for healthcare professionals


Release arrangements for immigration detainees are medically unsafe

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: (Published 13 January 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m15
  1. F W Arnold, independent forensic physician1,
  2. J Chisholm, chair of medical ethics committee2,
  3. J Cohen, independent forensic physician3,
  4. C Katona, medical and research director4,
  5. J Payne-James, consultant forensic physician5
  1. 1Medact, London, UK
  2. 2British Medical Association, London, UK
  3. 3Oxford, UK
  4. 4Helen Bamber Foundation, London, UK
  5. 5Queen Mary University of London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to: F Arnold arnold_frank{at}

Providers must ensure continuity of care for this vulnerable group

NHS England now requires that prisoners must be registered with a general practitioner before their release. It says this is because “release from custody can be a crisis situation for some and can result in the reversal of previous health improvements. Furthermore, it [pre-registration] is vital in helping to support better health outcomes and maintain continuity of care for these individuals.”1 The new policy also requires prison healthcare services to organise follow-up medical care for prisoners “up to one month” before the date of their release.

Some 69 622 people were released from prison in England and Wales in 2018.2 If successfully implemented, this commendable development should make a major difference to their health since problems are high in this patient group3 and may affect rehabilitation.

The positive commitment to aftercare for people released from prison is in marked contrast to current arrangements for the 13 992 people who were released …

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