Innovation in prison healthcare

At Spectrum we champion healthcare improvements across all our services. Our dedicated prison healthcare teams are passionate about helping patients, developing innovative solutions which promote lasting, positive health and wellbeing. Our teams have won numerous awards for innovative practice.

Patient healthcare ambassadors, HMP & YOI Deerbolt

With a growing body of evidence suggesting that peer led programmes are more effective at reaching patients requiring treatment in criminal justice settings, Spectrum began breakthrough work to train prison patients as healthcare ambassadors.

Our peer mentor training is based on the National Care Certificate, a robust induction programme for support workers in health and social care settings, as well as specialist course content covering substance misuse, mental health, recovery and long-term conditions. The programme was piloted at HMP & YOI Deerbolt, then rolled out across our 7 North East prisons.

For peer mentors such as Callum, the opportunity to undertake recognised training and help his fellow prisoners has given him renewed optimism for life after prison.

“Since I became a peer mentor, I’ve gained confidence and knowledge and I’ve started to grow as a person. When I was given the chance to do this, I took it with open arms because I’ve always wanted to support others and gain some sort of benefit for myself.”

The programme is being prepared for CPD accreditation, which means that all those who complete the course will leave prison with accredited qualifications under their belt.

The healthcare team at HMP & YOI Deerbolt scooped a prestigious Our Health Heroes Award for the best healthcare initiative in a community or criminal justice setting, with judges commending our transformational impact on prisoners’ lives.

Onsite Haemodialysis, HMP Preston

Healthcare staff in HMP Preston developed a Haemodialysis project which enables onsite treatment to be offered to patients for the first time.

This project was developed when a Spectrum nurse, Lyndsey, realised there were no onsite dialysis facilities available for patients. Prison officers were collectively spending over 50 hours per week, per prisoner, escorting dialysis patients to hospital appointments – an estimated cost of around £2,000 per month in working hours.

Lyndsey instigated discussions with the head of healthcare and the prison governor, outlining her vision for how the project would work, benefits for patients and for the prison.

After being allocated a room to use as a dialysis suite, Lyndsey sourced Haemodialysis machines and began a training programme for healthcare staff.

The project went on to win the managing long term conditions category at the Nursing Times Awards. Lyndsey also claimed the rising star award.

Nursing excellence, HMP Lancaster Farms

Helen is an advanced nurse practitioner (ANP), who supports patients and colleagues across three of our North West prisons. This role has helped to embed a nurse-led approach across the wider healthcare team, building on the skills of nurse practitioners and non-medical prescribers (NMPs) and allowing GPs the time to prioritise complex care.

As an ANP, Helen provides support to up-skill the existing nursing team and give them opportunities for education and training. She provides supervision and clinical support to nurses on a variety of issues, including pain management and tradeable medications, substance misuse, managing long-term conditions and palliative care. She is also an essential support to locum GPs and other healthcare professionals who might be less familiar with the prison environment, helping them to understand the unique challenges of a secure environment.

Helen oversees frequent ANP clinics to assess and manage complex patient care, which resolves many day to day health concerns for patients, enables GP time to be used more effectively and helps to triage patients so they can access appropriate support quickly. Prison patients waiting times have reduced significantly from 51/2 weeks to 2/12 weeks within a 12 month period, something which has previously been identified by the CQC as an area requiring improvement.

Helen played a key role in Spectrum’s pain management project in HMP Lancaster Farms, a trial project which aimed to reduce the misuse of pain medications such as Gabapentin in the prison, and to promote safer prescribing. Part of this involved 1 to 1 consultations with patients whose medications were changing or reducing for safety reasons.

Transforming healthcare at HMP Liverpool

As a leading prison healthcare provider, Spectrum was approached by commissioners to deliver a transformation programme at HMP Liverpool, after a report identified systematic failings in healthcare and leadership throughout the prison.

Under the banner of Better Health Liverpool, Spectrum worked with the existing multi-agency nursing team to address imminent risks and overhaul the service strategically, operationally, and clinically. Staff engagement, patient engagement strategies, and workforce development plans were implemented, alongside an improved quality and performance infrastructure with additional training analysis.

The outcome was such that the nursing team was awarded silver medals from the prestigious Chief Nursing Officer for their outstanding work. The award is an enormous accomplishment for Spectrum and the nursing team, acknowledging the passion, commitment and transformational work we are now nationally acclaimed for.

Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for NHS England, said: “I was delighted to visit HMP Liverpool and to present the Primary Care Nursing Team with a CNO Award in recognition of their outstanding work and commitment. They are an inspirational team, and it was a pleasure to meet them and personally thank them for their work.”