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Health board spends £1.15 million per year treating prisoners

PRISONERS need to see doctors, dentists and pharmacists like everyone else, and there is a cost for the service.

Swansea Bay University Health Board staff provide healthcare to hundreds of inmates at Swansea Prison.

New arrivals receive an initial screening prior to a more comprehensive assessment within 24 hours, with detoxification support if required.

The Victorian-era facility held 458 prisoners when Government inspectors visited in August, 2017, which was nearly 200 above what is considered the prison’s “uncrowded capacity”.

The health board spends £1.15 million per year treating prisoners.

The highest areas of expenditure are nursing staff, drugs, pharmacy staff and GP out of hours staff, according to a health board Freedom of Information response to the Local Democracy Reporter Service.

The health board, when asked for the number of emergency prisoner admissions to hospital, said it didn’t have a formal system for recording such cases.

The 2017 inspection of Swansea Prison looked into healthcare, and found good clinical leadership and a 24-hour nurse presence.

Inspectors cited “chronic” nursing and medical vacancies, though, but said this was being addressed by a nursing recruitment drive.

Prisoners generally saw a GP within a week for routine matters and there were slots for urgent care, but there were no regular clinics for prisoners with long-term conditions.

The Oystermouth Road facility had a full-time pharmacist and a technician, while a drop-in dental clinic was provided by a Swansea-based dental service in the absence of a formal contract.

Inspectors recommended that a formal dental contract was arranged as soon as possible because some prisoners in “acute pain” were not being assessed quickly enough.

Mental health care was found to be good but unable to meet the high level of need, although psychiatrist access was prompt.

The report by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons added: “Visiting specialists provided prompt access to sexual health services and treatment for blood-borne viruses. Access to immunisations was good.”

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