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Chronically Ill Prisoners Face Great Healthcare Problems

People with chronic illnesses can experience great difficulties in prison, but people such as drug addicts and the homeless may find their healthcare improves//, according to a study in the latest Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Researchers led by the late Gill Hek from the Faculty of Health and Social Care at the University of the West of England, Bristol, spoke to a cross-section of 111 prisoners in 12 prisons across the UK.

The problems they uncovered included an older, incontinent prisoner who had to use a bin bag to protect his mattress and a diabetic who regularly missed breakfast because he was only offered high sugar cereals.

'Little account appeared to be taken of the specific needs of these prisoners, which meant that they experienced daily discomfort, combined with fear of bullying' says Gill’s co-author Jane Powell.

'We found that policies and standards of healthcare really varied from prison to prison. For example, some diabetic prisoners told us they were able to keep their insulin and blood testing equipment with them, while others had to inject themselves in front of other prisoners in the queue at the medication hatch.'

Other prisoners expressed concern that night-time health emergencies wouldn’t be handled promptly, saying that they were banned from sounding their buzzers after lock-in and that doors were only unlocked in the most serious circumstances.

One prisoner told researchers he had to wait over an hour for staff to open the door after his cellmate hanged himself.

Lack of privacy and confidentiality were also issues, with some prisoners having to discuss problems like sexually transmitted diseases in front of other inmates. There was also a feeling that some staff took a tough approach to all prisoners because a number faked illnesses to get medication or miss work.

A number of prisoners also complained that they were treated according to prison rul
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