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NICE releases draft guidelines for providing quality healthcare to prisoners

16 May 2016

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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued draft guidelines on the proper care and support for people in prisons.

The guideline, Physical health of people in prison, recommend that every prisoner be given a full healthcare assessment that looks at both mental and physical wellbeing before being taken to their cell.

Aimed at care and support providers to people in prisons, including front-line practitioners and managers, the advice asks that they offer inmates advice on exercise, diet and sexual health.

Beyond improving in-prison care, NICE recommends helping newly released inmates to register with their local GP and facilitate the transition by providing a care plan, detailing any significant health-related events relevant to the person while in prison.

The guidance follows research from the Prison Reform Trust that shows the number of inmates aged 60 and over has increased by 164% between 2002 and 2015 across England and Wales.

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As the largest growing age group in the prison population, an increasing number of these inmates are expressing concerns about accessing health care and medications.

Professor Mark Baker, director for the Centre of Clinical Practice at NICE, said:“Our prison population is getting older, meaning they are more likely to have complex, chronic healthcare needs.

“Delivering the care they need in such a restrictive environment is difficult, but no less important than for anyone else. People in prison should receive the care they need, and this should be comparable to treatment available beyond the prison gates.”

Further research has shown that people in prison are also at higher risk of chronic diseases, with more than 80% of male prisoners aged 60 and over suffering from a chronic illness or disability.

Richard Bradshaw, former Director of Offender Health and Chair of the NICE guideline committee, said: “We know that people in prison are a vulnerable population with a high health need, which requires close attention and careful management.

“The consultation for this draft guidance is now open and we welcome comments on our suggested recommendations. We want to ensure that these people receive the care they need to promote wellbeing, prevent deterioration, assist in rehabilitation and reduce re-offending.”

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