Prison healthcare advice

If a family member, or someone you care for, is in prison and has a healthcare issue or question, please advise them to speak to a member of the prison healthcare team.

Here is a selection of some of our most frequently asked questions relating to healthcare in prison.

Patients in prison receive the same healthcare and treatment as anyone in the community. The length of time it takes to see a GP is dependent on the patient’s needs and the waiting list. Urgent appointments are given the same day, others are placed on a waiting list for triage – just like in a GP practice.

The same as that which is available within the community. Depending on the prison, services include GP, pharmacy, podiatry, opticians, smoking cessation, sexual health, smear tests, vaccinations, physiotherapy, mental health and substance misuse support.

Prescriptions and medication are dispensed by the prison pharmacist. Medication information can be found within the Summary Care Record, which is within the electronic medical system. All patients will sign a consent form to allow our admin department to contact their GPs to share this information, eg medication prescribed. Once the information is confirmed, the prison prescriber will generate a prescription for the medication.

If it is decided that a patient requires hospital treatment, arrangements are made to allow this to happen. Sometimes, a nurse will accompany a patient to their hospital appointment for support.

Prisons have an on-site mental health team, with a duty worker available out of hours. There is also a huge support network within prisons, including wing officers, key workers and chaplaincy services or pastoral care. If a patient requires counselling, they are signposted to the relevant services once an assessment has been made.

Patients receive a healthcare assessment on arrival at the prison. If required, they are placed in the substance misuse unit, where 24hr nursing care is available. Monitoring takes place, with support interventions from the Drug & Alcohol Recovery Team (DART).


NEPACS is a North East charity offering confidential support, from arrest, to court, prison and on release. To find out more about NEPACS, visit their website.