Offenders with mental health problems need improved and on-going access to health care, according to the first study to systematically examine healthcare received by offenders across the criminal justice system.
A new report from Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, Plymouth University, and the Centre for Mental Health, suggests that prison and community sentences offer the best opportunities to provide this. If improvements to mental health are to contribute to breaking the cycle of repeat offending, unemployment and ill-health, advantage should be taken of the new commissioning opportunities to develop innovative healthcare solutions.
The study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Services and Delivery Research (NIHR HS&DR) programme with support from the NIHR Peninsula Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (PenCLAHRC).
The COCOA (Care for Offenders: Continuity of Access) research study shows that support for offenders with mental health problems falls substantially short of the treatment available for those with addictions. Offenders reported low levels of health care contact for common mental health problems and comparatively high levels of contact with specialist drug services, particularly those using heroin. Analysis of the interview data also showed that offenders contributed to low take-up of care by not always understanding how accessing healthcare could support their housing, employment and relationship goals.
Researchers interviewed 200 offenders, passing through police stations, courts, prison and the probation service, to document both their health needs and the care provided. It also examined two whole system, and six best practice, organisational case studies in order to incorporate the practitioner perspective. The most successful of the initiatives studied allowed offenders to get support that they saw as relevant to their own situation; they a
|Contact: Andrew Gould|
The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry