What kind of healthcare can prisoners expect when they are in prison?
The healthcare that a prisoner receives should be based on individual need, however the reality is that wide variations occur from prison to prison and services that are currently available in one prison may not be available in another. Prisoners should receive the same care as they would receive outside prison. Prisons may have a differing health service according to type of prison and previous ways in which health services have been met. Armley Prison has a healthcare unit which offers medical care 24 hours a day 7 days a week and has both general and psychiatric nurses available plus doctors & a dentist.
How does the prison know if a prisoner has health problems?
On reception to prison, each prisoner has a health screening when they are asked questions about their health and any medication that they may be on. If the prisoner requires medical treatment that cannot be delivered on the prison wing then they maybe transferred to a special location in the prison. Prisoners with mental health problems should be detected at this stage and referred for appropriate assessment and treatment. At Armley this would be with the Mental Health In Reach Team who would be able to offer the most appropriate help and treatment. To make a referral directly to them on behalf of an inmate please contact staff at the Jigsaw Visitors’ Centre who can do that for you.
What if you are worried about the mental state of a prisoner?
If you are worried about a prisoner who has mental health problems you need to encourage them to seek help in prison. You can tell them or talk to a member of the Healthcare team or The Mental Health In Reach Team alternatively each prisoner has a Personal Officer assigned to them and prisoners can talk to them. Armley Prison also has Listeners – prisoners trained and supported by the Samaritans – who will listen in confidence and are available 24 hours a day. They can also call the Samaritans, on a direct confidential telephone link which can be used any time and cannot be listened to. Prisoners can ask for a phone which goes directly through to the Samaritans and which they can use in private.
Prisoners can also ask to see a member of the Independent Monitoring Board or ask to speak to a prison chaplain.
If you think a prisoner may be at risk of suicide or self harm, please phone the Jigsaw Visitors’ Centre and speak to staff, we can make sure the right people in the prison know about the risk who can help the prisoner and also offer you support and advice.
What if the Prisoner does not want the treatment offered in Prison?
Prisoners have the same rights as those outside in that they can accept or decline treatment and their consent is needed in the same way as those in the community. The exception to this is if staff feel that the prisoner is a threat to the safety to him/herself, or to the staff, and that treatment is necessary and the individual unable to give consent. Staff need to explore whether the treatment is required and approaches made to see if the prisoner needs to be treated under the mental health Act. Prisoners are entitled to see their medical notes unless it is detrimental to the prisoner or others to do so.
What if a prisoner requires treatment?
Physical ailments are dealt with by a member of healthcare team which includes a doctor/GP. If necessary the patient will be transferred to the healthcare facility or in some cases maybe transferred to hospital for medical treatment. If a prisoner needs to stay in hospital usually a prison officer will accompany them and remain with them throughout their stay.
What if the prisoner is on medication?
Some medication may be kept by the prisoner, but other medication will have to be kept by prison staff and given out at the appointed time. If someone comes in who is taking medication the healthcare staff need to confirm what the medication is and the dosage with the inmates GP, this can take time (especially if the inmate does not the contact details for his GP). If you have any concerns about medication please write to; Healthcare. HMP Leeds, 2 Gloucester Terrace, Armley, Leeds, LS12 2TJ.
What if the prisoner was using illegal drugs prior to imprisonment?
Every prison offers some support for people with drug problems, often through partnerships with specialist drug services. Some prisons have their own rehabilitation programmes, again often run by specialist organisations. Under Certain circumstances prisoners may be transferred to another prison if the treatment they need is not available where they are. The Prison Service has set up CARATs (Counselling Assessment Referral Advice Throughcare services), which aim to offer help to every prisoner who is identified as having a drug problem. Each prison has a designated CARAT team.
What if the prisoner is not happy with the medical treatment he/she has received?
They will need to go through the normal complaints procedure. In the first instance the prisoner will need to fill in a request complaints form. If the prisoner is not happy then they can appeal. If the prisoner is still not satisfied then they can complain to the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (although not for clinical complaints). Forms are available from the wing office and members of Independent Monitoring Board will be able to help with forms and the filling in of forms for all complaints if necessary.
The address for the Ombudsman’s office is:
Prisons and Probation Ombudsman
2 Monck Street
London SW1P 2BQ
In serious cases of negligence or if there is a possibility of legal action, the prisoner can contact the Prisoners’ Advice Service by mail or phone and leave a message (there is an answering machine out of hours) and they will contact you by mail
Prisoner’s Advice Service
P O Box 46199
London EC1M 4XA
Tel: 020 7253 3323
Tel: 0845 430 8923
Fax: 020 7253 8067