Prison healthcare

Spectrum is one of the largest providers of prison healthcare services in the UK. We deliver high quality, award winning healthcare to more than 11,000 patients at 16 prison estates of all categories. Our priority and our commitment is to ensure people in prison are able to access the same healthcare provision as is available in the community.

We support our patients throughout their time in prison, caring for their immediate health and helping people to take an active interest in their own wellbeing. This support continues after they are released, enabling people to access community groups and services so they can continue looking after their health and other needs in the community. Our approach helps to address health inequalities, support successful rehabilitation and reduce reoffending.

We lead on a comprehensive package of healthcare within the prison environment, working with carefully selected partners to support all aspects of our patients’ health and wellbeing. We deliver our services onsite in the prison as much as possible and arrange external healthcare appointments where necessary.

Our healthcare provision includes:

  • Nursing and GP primary care
  • Pharmacy services
  • Mental health
  • Optical services
  • Clinical and non-clinical substance misuse services
  • Health and wellbeing promotion

The patient journey in prison healthcare

People in prison have the same healthcare needs as people in the community, and we work to ensure these needs are met in a comprehensive and compassionate way. For anyone who is already receiving health support and treatment prior to entering prison, this will continue whilst they are in custody, and after they are released if required. Our prison health checks can also identify healthcare needs that have not previously been identified, enabling more individuals into the right treatment and helping to promote health equality.

The Prisoners’ Family Helpline has created a series of short videos, developed with prisoners and their families, which explore different aspects of prison life and support.

On arrival in prison, everyone is offered a health assessment by our nursing team, to determine their immediate healthcare needs. Patients are also offered a mental health assessment within five days of being in custody, and a substance misuse assessment.

Our onsite admin teams connect with the patient’s community GP, Pharmacy and any other relevant healthcare teams or services, to ensure any treatment or appointments that have begun in the community can continue in prison.

This information is gathered through patient interviews and records. However, we understand that sometimes this does not provide a comprehensive list of the services working with an individual. We ask community healthcare teams to get in touch if they have not been contacted about a patient they are aware has entered custody.

Get in touch

Every wing, houseblock and residential location in each of our prisons has an assigned primary care team. Healthcare needs that arise during custody will, in the first instance, be assessed by a primary healthcare nurse, who will advise on any next steps needed. This may include a referral to a GP, allied health professional services, mental health teams and substance misuse teams.

For any healthcare needs that can’t be met within prison settings, an external appointment is arranged. If physical or mental healthcare needs extend beyond that which can be safely managed within a community setting, a transfer to an acute setting is arranged.

Spectrum adopts a whole prison community approach to health promotion. We encourage everyone who works and lives in the prison setting to get involved and take responsibility for improving their own health and wellbeing. This has a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of the whole prison. Our health promotion approach includes a range of literature, campaigns and events that contribute to health education, disease prevention and health interventions.

Spectrum adopts a whole prison community approach to health promotion. We encourage everyone who works and lives in the prison setting to get involved and take responsibility for improving their own health and wellbeing. This has a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of the whole prison. Our health promotion approach includes a range of literature, campaigns and events that contribute to health education, disease prevention and health interventions.

When a patient is released from prison, our admin teams update the patients care record and contact their community GP.

If a release date is known, staff will contact relevant community health and social care services in advance, to advise them of the date and to facilitate continuity of care in the community. Please be aware that sometimes release addresses and dates can change with minimal notice, which is outwith the control of the healthcare team.

A discharge summary is provided to the GP and where possible to any other health and social care services as required.

Patient feedback

Spectrum puts patient experience and feedback at the heart of everything we do. We work with our patients to continuously improve our healthcare services and enrich patient experience.

Here is a selection of what our patients have to say:

“The doctor displayed a great deal of empathy towards my particular condition. He listened and allowed me to get things off my chest. He also prescribed some medication.”

HMP Buckley Hall

“He listened to everything I had to say and came up with the best course of action. He also looked at my shoulder which wasn't the reason I attended healthcare that day.”

HMP Durham

“Made to feel comfortable and given clear info and explanation as to how and why treatment works. Can't ask for more than that.”

HMP Full Sutton

“At every appointment I was treated with courtesy and respect. Found both the doctor and nurse to be empathetic, respectful and understanding of my situation. Service I received second to none. Outstanding and impressed by the efficiency.”

HMP & YOI Low Newton

“The way I was treated (by Spectrum healthcare staff) and the whole process, was magnificent and excellent.”

HMP Liverpool

“The nurses and doctors were helpful and understanding, listened to my problems and tried to help me.”

HMP & YOI Deerbolt