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Major changes for healthcare in Devon’s prisons

Posted on 22nd May, 2009

A contract signed this week will see major improvements over the next few years in the provision of physical and mental healthcare services at the county’s three prisons. The Devon Prisons Health Partnership (DPHP) has been created to deliver a modern and more integrated healthcare service for the prisons at Exeter, Channings Wood (Newton Abbot) and Dartmoor (Princetown). Commissioned by Devon Primary Care Trust, DHDP is a joint venture between Devon Partnership NHS Trust, which will act as the lead agency and provide mental health services, and Devon Health, which will deliver a range of primary care health services.  Commenting on the contract, Governor of Exeter Prison, Mark Flinton, said: “We have a dedicated and professional standard of healthcare and want to use this opportunity to improve its quality and consistency.  We are looking forward to developing a more integrated approach to meeting the physical and mental healthcare needs of people in prison, building on the combined expertise of Devon Doctors and Devon Partnership NHS Trust.  Improved healthcare management will assist us in reducing re-offending and protecting the public.”
Services Integration Manager, Kate Lock, who has been appointed to manage health services across the three prisons, said: “The issue of prison health has never been higher on the national agenda and this contract represents a major step forward for Devon.  “People in prison have a wide range of healthcare needs and it is well documented that they can have particular needs related to mental health, emotional wellbeing and substance misuse, as well as a host of other needs.  DHDP is committed to providing access to the same range and quality of services that is available to every member of the public.  “A range of healthcare services is already provided within the county’s prisons and a number of services are provided by external organisations on an ‘in-reach’ basis.  What has been missing until now, however, is a joined-up approach to meeting all prison healthcare needs and offering consistently high standards of quality. “We will be actively working with the prison governors and their staff, as well as other support agencies, to increase the emphasis placed on prison health.  We will also be striving to increase opportunities for healthcare training and development within prisons and making sure that support for people continues when they are released from prison.” The £3.6m contract comes into effect from the beginning of August and is for an initial period of three years.  It is anticipated that most of the 80 or so staff currently working in healthcare posts within the three prisons will transfer to the employment of Devon Partnership NHS Trust.