Mental Health Services: Prisons

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 22nd November 2018.

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Photo of Helen Jones Helen Jones Chair, Petitions Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the (a) adequacy and (b) accessibility to prisoners of mental health services in prisons.

Photo of Jackie Doyle-Price Jackie Doyle-Price The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Improving the mental health of people in prison is a top priority for this Government.

We recognise that there are high numbers of people in prison with mental ill health. When people do go to prison, they should receive the same standard and access to National Health Service healthcare and mental health treatments and care as people in the community. The Department has not made a formal assessment of adequacy and accessibility of mental health services for people in prison.

However, work is underway to improve mental health services in prison. NHS England are focussing on an offender mental health pathway which will ensure that offenders are directed to the most appropriate intervention to their needs at the right time in the criminal justice system. The programme of work includes ensuring timely and appropriate transfers to a mental health hospital, timely remission to prison as part of a planned episode of care, and ensuring that those requiring treatment for mental ill health have access to high quality care.

New service specifications have been published for both low and medium secure hospitals as well as prison mental health services. The Prison Mental Health Specification embeds the Quality Standards for Prison Mental Health Services developed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists to ensure high quality care for all. Draft Guidance for Timely and Appropriate Transfers and Remissions of care to and from a mental health hospital is currently in production.

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