This page features the most Frequently Asked Questions (and their answers) for families with a loved one beginning a sentence at a prison where healthcare is provided by Reconnected To Health (RTH).

RTH is a partnership made up of Spectrum CIC (general healthcare), Tees Esk & Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust/TEWV (mental health services) and Humankind (drug and alcohol services).

If a prisoner has a concern, they must let a member of healthcare staff know.

MALE PRISON

What is healthcare like in a prison?

Prisoners receive the same healthcare and treatment as anyone outside of a prison.

Can they see a doctor/dentist/optician?

Once assessed by a member of the prison’s healthcare team, it will be determined whether that prisoner needs to see a doctor/dentist/optician. If they do, this will be arranged by the healthcare team.

How long does it take to get a GP appointment in prison?

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, but others are placed on a waiting list. Following triage, an appointment is given – rather like in a GP practice.

They were having ongoing health/hospital appointments - will the appointments continue in prison?

If a prisoner has a chronic illness or ongoing health issue that requires regular appointments, these will continue and be managed by the healthcare team.

They are on a course of antibiotics - will they be able to continue the course?

Yes – this will be managed by the healthcare/pharmacy team.

They are on anti-depressants; if they stop taking them it will take 3 weeks to get back into their system. This will affect their moods, what help will they get?

There is support for medication management. The on-site Pharmacist can perform medication reviews and give advice, looking at side effects, contraindications etc. The onsite Mental Health Team are available to give support if a prisoner is at risk, due to either stopping or starting anti-depressant medication.

They take medication and they haven’t got it with them, so how will they get their medication?

Prescriptions/medication will be dispensed by the prison pharmacist. Medication information can be found within the Summary Care Record, which is within the electronic medical system. All of the prisoners that come into custody sign a consent form to allow our admin department to contact GPs to share this information, e.g. medication prescribed. Once the information is confirmed, the prescriber will generate a prescription for the medication.

Are they allowed to take their own medication in or can I bring it for them?

Yes, prisoners can bring in their own medication. This can be used as long as it is in date, clearly labelled, and in the original packaging. The medication is taken to our pharmacy to allow this to be checked before it is used. If a prescription is generated, the on-site Pharmacist will dispense the appropriate medication required.

Why is it taking so long for them to get their medication?

As stated earlier, medication needs to be confirmed to allow a prescription to be generated. If consent is not granted to allow the admin department to request this information, there will be a delay. Or if a prisoner arrives on a Friday night or weekend, and the information is not in their Summary Care Record, confirmation may not be able to be gained until the GP surgery opens on a Monday. If it is vital medication (e.g. insulin) then there will be no delay. A range of medication is available in our ‘Out of Hours’ stock cabinet to prevent delay of medication.

I am worried they will try to kill themselves in prison - what can I do/who will help them?

There is an ‘At Risk’ phone line, which can be accessed to leave concerns. Maintaining contact with your loved one also provides support. The prisoner can list the phone numbers he wants access to and once this is checked by security and uploaded onto the system, he can make phone calls.

When a prisoner arrives into custody, or at any time of their custodial sentence is identified as at risk, there is a wealth of support systems to support him. This includes the prisoner being managed through the ACCT protocol and is identified as being at risk of self-harm. The main aim of ACCT is to keep your loved one safe. A collaborative approach utilising all the services available within the prison is taken, to allow assurances of safe management of the prisoners.

What happens if they get a headache/get ill through the night – can they still get medication?

There is a 24hr nursing service available within the prisons. A nurse can attend a prisoner’s cell and, following assessment, can provide the relevant medication/intervention. If the nurse requires support in the management of the prisoner, then a Clinician is on call out-of-hours for advice. If the prisoner has to attend an external hospital, whether this be throughout the day or night, then this is arranged without delay for an urgent appointment.

How long does it take to get an asthma inhaler issued? Are there facilities to have asthma reviews while in prison?

An inhaler can be issued immediately to a prisoner who requires one. There is a process in place to allow this to happen without the need for a prescription to be generated.

What if they need to go to hospital?

If a prisoner needs to go to hospital, arrangements are made to allow this to happen. There are times when a nurse has accompanied a prisoner for a hospital appointment for support and in the best interests of the prisoner.

If they go to hospital for appointments, am I able to meet them there as I was their main carer before they came into prison?

This would depend on security implications, following a risk assessment.

Do they have to pay for their prescriptions in prison?

No – prescriptions are free and managed by the prison’s healthcare team.

They have mental health issues - will they get any support?

There is an onsite Mental Health Team available every day, with a Duty Worker available out-of-hours. There is also a huge support network within the prison, e.g. the wing officer, key workers, chaplaincy services etc.

What is the waiting time for mental health help?

If a prisoner is in crisis, they are seen as an urgent appointment, on the same day. Other waiting times are dependent on need; there are various services within Mental Health and the prisoner will be signposted to the relevant service.

Can they get some counselling for their problems?

After an assessment, a prisoner is signposted to the relevant services.

They are going into prison with an alcohol or drug addiction, so what will happen?

The prisoner will be assessed in the reception area and placed in the Substance Misuse Unit, where 24hr nursing care is available. Monitoring takes place with support interventions from the Reconnected To Health Staff, which included Humankind, Spectrum and TEWV (mental health staff).

FEMALE PRISON

What is healthcare like in a prison?

Prisoners receive the same healthcare and treatment as anyone outside of a prison. At present, healthcare in prison is somewhat more accessible than healthcare in the community. At HMP Low Newton, there is 24hr nursing care available and the prisoners also have access to a PALs Line – which allows them to arrange appointments for the services available.

There are many health services the prisoners have in-house access to: Immunisations, Vaccinations, all National Screening Programmes, Dental Services, Podiatry, Optician, Ultrasound, X-Ray, Colposcopy, Genito-Urinary Medicine, Contraception & Sexual Health, Midwifery Services, Venepuncture, ECGs, Weight Management, Smoking Cessation, Retinal Screening, and Nurse Led Clinics (to review long term conditions e.g. asthma, COPD, diabetes, epilepsy etc.)

The prisoners also have access to ‘Tele-Health’ services, which allows them to have an appointment in-house with an external practitioner. The consultation takes place over a face-to-face monitor. If required, the prisoners also have external appointments provided if their needs cannot be met within the prison, e.g. CT Scan, MRI etc.

How long does it take to get a GP appointment in prison?

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, but others are placed on a waiting list. Following triage, an appointment is given – rather like in a GP practice. The waiting list at present is less than a week for non-urgent cases. Some prisoners are seen by a nurse to allow triage and to find out if a GP appointment is required.

They were having ongoing health/hospital appointments - will the appointments continue in prison?

If a prisoner has a chronic illness or ongoing health issue that requires regular appointments, these will continue and be managed by the healthcare team.

They are on a course of antibiotics - will they be able to continue the course?

Yes – this will be managed by the healthcare/pharmacy team.

They are on anti-depressants; if they stop taking them it will take 3 weeks to get back into their system. This will affect their moods, what help will they get?

There is support for the prisoners around medication management. The on-site Pharmacist can perform medication reviews and give advice, looking at side effects, contraindications etc. The onsite Mental Health Team are available to support the prisoners if they are at risk, due to either stopping or starting anti-depressant medication.

They take medication and they haven’t got it with them, so how will they get their medication?

Prescriptions/medication will be dispensed by the prison pharmacist. Medication information can be found within the Summary Care Record, which is within the electronic medical system. All prisoners that come into custody sign a consent form to allow our admin department to contact GPs to share this information, e.g. medication prescribed. Once the information is confirmed, the prescriber will generate a prescription for the medication.

Are they allowed to take their own medication in or can I bring it for them?

Yes, prisoners can bring in their own medication. This can be used as long as it is in date, clearly labelled, and in the original packaging. The medication is taken to our pharmacy to allow this to be checked before it is used. If a prescription is generated, the on-site Pharmacist will dispense the appropriate medication required.

Why is it taking so long for them to get their medication?

As stated earlier, medication needs to be confirmed to allow a prescription to be generated. If consent is not granted to allow the admin department to request this information, there will be a delay. Or if a prisoner arrives on a Friday night or weekend, and the information is not in their Summary Care Record, confirmation may not be able to be gained until the GP surgery opens on a Monday. If it is vital medication (e.g. insulin) then there will be no delay. A range of medication is available in our ‘Out of Hours’ stock cabinet to prevent delay of medication.

I am worried they will try to kill themselves in prison - what can I do/who will help them?

There is an ‘At Risk’ phone line, which can be accessed to leave concerns. Maintaining contact with your loved ones also provides support. The prisoner can list the phone numbers she wants access to and once this is checked by security and uploaded onto the system, she can make phone calls.

When a prisoner arrives into custody, or at any time of their custodial sentence is identified as at risk, there is a wealth of support systems to support her. This includes the prisoner being managed through the ACCT protocol and is identified as being at risk of self-harm. The main aim of ACCT is to keep your loved one safe. A collaborative approach utilising all the services available within the prison is taken, to allow assurances of safe management of the prisoners.

What happens if they get a headache/get ill through the night – can they still get medication?

There is a 24hr nursing service available within HMP Low Newton. A nurse can attend a prisoner’s cell and, following assessment, can provide the relevant medication/intervention. If the nurse requires support in the management of the prisoner, then a Clinician is on call out-of-hours for advice. If the prisoner has to attend an external hospital, whether this be throughout the day or night, then this is arranged without delay for an urgent appointment.

How long does it take to get an asthma inhaler issued?

An inhaler can be issued immediately to a prisoner who requires one. There is a process in place to allow this to happen without the need for a prescription to be generated.

What if they need to go to hospital?

If a prisoner needs to go to hospital, arrangements are made to allow this to happen. There are times when a nurse has accompanied a prisoner for a hospital appointment for support and in the best interests of the prisoner.

If they go to hospital for appointments, am I able to meet them there as I was their main carer before they came into prison?

This would depend on security implications, following a risk assessment.

Do they have to pay for their prescriptions in prison?

No – prescriptions are free and managed by the prison’s healthcare team.

They have mental health issues - will they get any support?

There is an onsite Mental Health Team available every day, with a Duty Worker available out-of-hours. There is also a huge support network within the prison, e.g. the wing officer, key workers, chaplaincy services etc.

What is the waiting time for mental health help?

If a prisoner is in crisis, they are seen as an urgent appointment, on the same day. Other waiting times are dependent on need; there are various services within Mental Health and the prisoner will be signposted to the relevant service.

Can they get some counselling for their problems?

After an assessment, the prisoner is signposted to the relevant services.

They are going into prison with an alcohol or drug addiction, so what will happen?

The prisoner will be assessed in the reception area and placed in the Substance Misuse Unit, where 24hr nursing care is available. Monitoring takes place with support interventions from the Reconnected To Health Staff, which included Humankind, Spectrum and TEWV (mental health staff).

NALOXONE CAN HELP SAVE A LIFE

Naloxone is a medication used to reverse an overdose of opioids (e.g. heroin, methadone, opium, codeine, morphine and buprenorphine). It is now more widely available in the UK as a ‘take home’ emergency medication. Anyone who is in situation where they may be with, or find someone who has had an overdose of opiates, should carry a naloxone kit. Naloxone can be administered via a pre-filled syringe or a nasal spray.

For further information on naloxone, please visit https://naloxone.org.uk/ or speak to a member of NEPACS.

For a free naloxone kit and guides on how to use it, please click here.