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Health and Social Care in Prisons

– in the Scottish Parliament on 13th March 2019.

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Photo of Mary Fee Mary Fee Labour

7. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the progress being made by the health and social care in prisons programme board. (S5O-02987)

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

Healthcare in prisons is the responsibility of the national health service. My colleague the Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing wrote to the Health and Sport Committee on 22 February 2019 to update it on the progress of the health and social care in prisons programme. Developments include better integrated health and social care provision, improved clinical information technology and an innovation fund to improve joint working between the NHS and the Scottish Prison Service. For further information, the letter is available on the Health and Sport Committee’s page on the Parliament website.

Photo of Mary Fee Mary Fee Labour

Last year, it was revealed that more than 3,800 people who left prison between 2016 and 2018 identified as homeless to local authorities. Without a home, people with convictions struggle to register with general practitioners and to continue with the vital health and social care progress that was started while they were in prison.

What measures will the Scottish Government take to ensure that people with convictions have a house to return to and can access vital GP services after their release?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

I thank Mary Fee for that question, because she raises a hugely important issue. I know that she has a long-standing interest in such matters.

I have met the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning on a regular basis to talk about the sustainable housing on release for everyone—SHORE—standards, which Mary Fee will be familiar with. Pre-liberation and post-liberation throughcare is extremely important in ensuring that someone who comes out of prison has access not just to housing and health services, which Mary Fee rightly mentioned, but to addiction services and so on.

Bearing in mind the need for brevity, I undertake to write to the member with more detail on what we are doing. I would also be happy to meet her to discuss the matter in more detail.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Jenny Gilruth has a supplementary. You must be brief, please.

Photo of Jenny Gilruth Jenny Gilruth Scottish National Party

Does the cabinet secretary agree that a sensible way to reduce Scotland’s prison population is by extending the presumption against short periods of imprisonment and putting greater emphasis on community sentences, which was backed by 85 per cent of respondents to the Government’s consultation?

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

A yes or no will do, cabinet secretary.

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

Yes, and I hope to get parliamentary support for that. I will bring forward the order at Easter, and I hope that we will have that in place by the summer.