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BMA briefing: Justice Select Committee inquiry into prison reform

The BMA has provided evidence to the House of Commons Justice Select Committee to inform their inquiry into Prison Reform.

The Committee’s inquiry will seek to report on how prison reform should be shaped and comment on the Government’s recently published Prison Reform White Paper, which outlines Government’s intention to reform prisons by giving governors more power, alongside increasing transparency and accountability.

The Paper also seeks to ensure healthcare and treatment provided in custody should be equivalent in quality and standard to that available in the community and to adopt a joint approach to commissioning health services in England, with governors jointly involved in the decision making process at each stage of the commissioning cycle alongside local NHS commissioners.


Key points

  • Prison regimes should be required to provide equivalence of care to prisoners, ensuring that they receive the same level of care as that available to their contemporaries in the community.
  • There is a need for an overall recognition by government and prison commissioners of the value of promoting effective healthcare to improve outcomes for reoffending and prisoner wellbeing.
  • There needs to be greater transparency for health outcomes throughout the secure estate, such as information on staffing levels and hospital transfer times.
  • Specific targets should be introduced to reduce all deaths in the secure estate, including suicides and premature deaths through natural causes.
  • Prisons should take an evidence based approach to promoting health programmes aimed at reducing reoffending, such as initiatives to manage substance misuse and addiction.
  • Guidelines should be introduced to protect those with language barriers including ensuring that prisoners’ health is not put at risk by rationing of translator services for healthcare.
  • There is a need for improved planning and support for ex-offenders accessing health care upon return to the community, particularly for vulnerable individuals and those with chronic conditions.


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BMA response to the Justice Select Committee inquiry into Prison Reform

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For further information, please contact Gemma Hopkins, Senior Public Affairs Officer:

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