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Prison conditions in the United Kingdom

Prison health services at a country level are administered by the Department of Health in each of the devolved areas, and then commissioned by public health bodies and managed by Health Trusts and service providers. The prison health services in England are commissioned by NHS (National Health Service) England Health and Justice. A partnership agreement between NHS England, National Offender Management Service (NOMS) and Public Health England is in place with the joint commitment to work together for the purposes of co-commissioning and delivery in health care services. In all four devolved areas the prisons are inspected by governing bodies and are responsible act on the inspectorate reports.

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Overcrowding is an issue in UK prisons in 2016, 77 of the 118 prisons were overcrowded with 9 762 people over the Certified Normal Accommodation Number. Approximately 20000 people still share cells, designated for fewer occupants. There is great strain on the prison service, resulting in many prisoners without purposeful activity during the day.

The prison health service in the UK is run independently of the prison service, it is commissioned. It aims for an equivalence of care with NHS community services, providing primary care and mental health services in prison and arranging in-reach secondary care or appointments with secondary and tertiary care providers.

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Health areas given priorities are Infectious diseases, hepatitis opt out testing and pathways, mental health illness, self-harm and chronic diseases. In 2017 all prisons in England and Wales are planned to be smoke free. Use of illegal substances are a major problem in UK prisons, new psychoactive substances (NPS) are widespread.

A major Prison Reform is planned for the prisons in England and Wales. Restructuring and modernization will involve building 9 new prisons.

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Sources:

  • Public Health England Health and Justice Review 2015
  • UK Government Prison Stats
  • Bromley Trust Report
  • Prison Reform Trust