Prisons: Mental Health Services

Department of Health written question – answered on 17th March 2015.

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Photo of George Hollingbery George Hollingbery Conservative, Meon Valley

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps his Department has taken to improve the mental health of prisoners.

Photo of Norman Lamb Norman Lamb The Minister of State, Department of Health

NHS England is improving prison mental health services through nationally developed service specifications, which are being rolled out across the prison estate in England, ensuring that there are national standards against which services can be measured.

In addition, the Government’s Mandate with NHS England commits NHS England to develop better healthcare services for people in the criminal justice system. We have also asked the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to develop guidelines on improving the mental health for people in prison, which it expects to publish in 2016.

Liaison and diversion services seek to identify offenders who have mental health, learning disability or substance misuse vulnerabilities, and who come into contact with the criminal justice system, so that they can either be supported through the criminal justice pathway or diverted into treatment, social care service or other relevant intervention or support service. NHS England is currently rolling out a new standard model of liaison and diversion service to ensure that services are consistent and can support people of all ages. From April 2015, there will be 22 liaison and diversion sites across England covering over 55% of the population. If the model is successful, services will then be rolled out nationally by 2017/18 subject to HM Treasury approval of the full business case.

Work is currently underway with the Ministry of Justice on developing mental health care in the criminal justice system, which will ensure that prisoners receive mental health treatment equivalent to what they would receive in the community and support continuity of treatment between custody and community.

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