Prisoners promised better health service
PRISONERS in Norfolk have been promised an improved range of health services as bosses admit an improvement on provision is “long overdue”.NHS Norfolk's board members agreed at a meeting on Tuesday to a major overhaul of healthcare services for inmates in Norwich Prison, as well as those in Wayland and the new prison at RAF Coltishall.
PRISONERS in Norfolk have been promised an improved range of health services as bosses admit an improvement on provision is “long overdue”.
NHS Norfolk's board members agreed at a meeting on Tuesday to a major overhaul of healthcare services for inmates in Norwich Prison, as well as those in Wayland and the new prison at RAF Coltishall.
A plan has been developed that incorporates services across primary care, including GP, dentists and nurses, mental health and substance misuse.
It means staff will be employed in prisons who understand specifically the medical need of prisoners and care will be provided in the form of medical, non-medical and behaviourial interventions.
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As reported earlier this year, prisoners at the Knox Road jail in Norwich were left without a permanent GP after no surgery wanted to run the service.
At the time health bosses warned prisoners were getting a second class health service as a result. After yesterday's meeting it was agreed there would now be a tendering process to establish who would run the new improved service for prisoners.
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Gary Scott, NHS Norfolk's interim director of primary care said: “We are aware that the way prisoners currently receive their healthcare and treatment in the prisons could be significantly better in Norfolk and this specification will give us a much improved healthcare system.
“The next stage of the procurement process will start in October this year, with the contract being awarded to the successful bidder in March 2010 with a view to having the new service up and running by April 2010. “
The health service in Norwich prison and young offender's institution is reliant on a locum service. Until two years ago the responsibility for healthcare in prisons was with the Prison Service who employed a medical officer at each jail but now it is down to the NHS.
NHS Norfolk has invited GP practices to tender but did not get any suitable bids. The contract for Wayland Prison, near Watton, was won by Theatre Street Surgery in Dereham which already runs the service there and this contract will not be affected by the changes.
Norwich prison has an elderly lifers wing and has some seriously ill prisoners, the most high profile being train robber Ronnie Biggs.
Dave Banford, deputy governor for Norwich Prison, said: “We welcome any improvements that are made for the general healthcare of prisoners.
“The provision of healthcare for prisoners has not changed for several years and it is long overdue an overhaul.”