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Prison health-care wings: psychiatry's forgotten frontier?

Forrester, Andrew, Chiu, Katrina, Dove, Samantha and Parrott, Janet 2010. Prison health-care wings: psychiatry's forgotten frontier? Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health 20 (1) , pp. 51-61. 10.1002/cbm.753

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Abstract

Background There is worldwide evidence of high rates of mental disorder among prisoners, with significant co‐morbidity. In England and Wales, mental health services have been introduced from the National Health Service to meet the need, but prison health‐care wings have hardly been evaluated. Aims/hypotheses To conduct a service evaluation of the health‐care wing of a busy London remand (pre‐trial) prison and examine the prevalence and range of mental health problems, including previously unrecognised psychosis. Methods Service‐use data were collected from prison medical records over a 20‐week period in 2006–2007, and basic descriptive statistics were generated. Results Eighty‐eight prisoners were admitted (4.4 per week). Most suffered from psychosis, a third of whom were not previously known to services. Eleven men were so ill that they required emergency compulsory treatment in the prison under Common Law before hospital tranfer could take place. Over a quarter of the men required hospital transfer. Problem behaviours while on the prison health‐care wing were common. Conclusions and implications Prison health‐care wings operate front‐line mental illness triaging and recognition functions and also provide care for complex individuals who display behavioural disturbance. Services are not equivalent to those in hospitals, nor the community, but instead reflect the needs of the prison in which they are situated. There is a recognised failure to divert at earlier points in the criminal justice pathway, which may be a consequence of national failure to fund services properly. Hosptial treatment is often delayed. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0957-9664
Last Modified: 12 Aug 2021 23:48
URI: http://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/139685

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