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Prison Healthcare Continues to Fail Despite Emergency Measures, Warns BMA

The early release of more than a thousand prisoners has failed to solve the crisis that is undermining prison healthcare and prisoner rehabilitation programmes, said the BMA today.

The 19th July marks the one month anniversary of the Ministry of Justices introduction of emergency measures designed to alleviate the overcrowding crisis in English and Welsh prisons. A key element of the Government strategy was an early release programme for some low category prisoners that has to date seen more than a thousand inmates freed early. The Ministry of Justice claimed this measure would ease the strain on the penal system and improve conditions across the prison service.

Despite these assurances, the BMA has been in contact with doctors in the prison and police service who have provided specific examples of the continuing failures that are undermining not just standard healthcare services for inmates but also crucial rehabilitation programmes designed to prevent prisoners re-offending after they are released.

Examples in the BMAs snapshot dossier, entitled 'Crisis in the Cells', include:

Chaos in continuity of care and record keeping services that result in prisoners with serious mental health and drug dependency problems not being assessed or treated properly.
Rehabilitation programmes being impeded by a drastic shortage of police escort officers that prevents prisoners being treated in specialist NHS services. The shortage is so severe that in some areas common medical problems, such as broken hand bones, are not sent for X-Rays in NHS facilities.
A prison doctor was unable to register a prisoner with serious mental health problems with a specialist mental health team because of confusion and delays in supplying his release details.
In some areas, the waiting time for new prisoners to be assessed by a prison doctor has more than trebled.

Dr Redmond Walsh, a prison do
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