We provide primary health care to prisoners. This includes general practitioner (GP) services, nursing and basic dentistry and some disability support services.
Each prison has a health centre with registered nurses employed by Corrections. Doctors and dentists are contracted to provide medical and dental care.
Provision of secondary and tertiary health care services is the responsibility of the local District Health Board. Prisoners are referred by prison health services under the same eligibility criteria as any other member of the public.
Every prisoner entering prison has their health needs assessed when they arrive and on-going care and treatment is given if required. This includes access to nicotine replacement therapy, as all prisons are smoke free.
This assessment includes whether a prisoner is at risk to themselves or others.
Mental health needs
Research has found that mental health disorders and illnesses are up to five times more prevalent among prisoners than in the general population.
All prisoners aged over 18 are screened as part of the arrival process to assess if they have a mental health need. If they have a mild to moderate mental health need they can be referred to the prison doctor or receive counselling, including if eligible, cognitive behavioural therapy.
All prisoners with serious mental health needs are managed in partnership with their local Regional Forensic Mental Health Services.
In acute cases prisoners may be transferred to a secure forensic mental health facility. These services are managed by District Health Boards.
Prisoners with physical disabilities
Prisoners with physical disabilities receive the same level of support that would be available to them in the wider community. This is funded through the local District Health Board disability and support services.
When a prisoner with a disability is received into prison, a plan around managing their disability is developed. This plan takes into consideration their security classification and how they will interact with other prisoners.
Where possible prisoners with disabilities are provided with supporting equipment, such as wheelchairs. Prisons have cells specifically designed for prisoners with disabilities.