NHS 'fails prisoners with mental health problems'

The NHS is failing people in the criminal justice system who have mental health problems, a guide released by the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health (SCMH) suggests. By Jonathan Masterson.

The SCMH guide contains ‘10 top tips’ that PCTs should use to determine whether prisoners and offenders in their area are being given adequate support.

‘Every year, PCTs in England commission health care for an average of 500 prisoners, 1,000 community sentenced offenders and some 10,000 people arrested by the police,’ said Max Rutherford, policy officer for the Sainsbury Centre. 

‘Most have mental health problems, yet few receive the care and support they need to get their lives back on track.’

Among the proposals made by the guide are calls for dedicated police and court liaison services, as well as the establishment of designated ‘places of safety’ for people in need of urgent care away from police custody. 

The guide echoes the recommendations made by the Bradley Report, which was published in April this year.  The comprehensive reforms proposed by the report included the establishment of a Criminal Justice Mental Health Team in every PCT, a 14-day limit for transfers from prisons to hospitals.  It also suggested that health care in police custody should become the responsibility of the NHS.

GPLetters@haymarket.com

  • How could the NHS better treat prisoners with mental health problems?

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