[PDF] Mental health in prisons

National Audit Office - NAO
National Audit Office
Publication date:
29 June 2017


This report looks at the provision of mental healthcare and mental health and well-being services in prison. It also considered routes out of prison, including continuity of care into the community and transfer to secure hospital. It draws on an analysis of national data, visits to ten prisons, surveys of prison governors and healthcare managers. Key findings highlight: a lack of clarity in how the Offender Management Service, NHS England and Public Health England intend to meet their objectives for providing mental healthcare in prisons; a lack of reliable data about mental health in prisons, making it difficult to plan and monitor services; and pressures in the prison system, such as reduced resources and an ageing prison population, which make more difficult to manage prisoners’ mental well-being. Although the report found the quality of clinical care to be good, it identifies weaknesses in identifying prisoners who need mental health services, delays in the transfer of prisoners to secure hospitals, and a lack of continuity of care on release. Recommendations include: the need for the Ministry of Justice, Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), the Department of Health, NHS England and Public Health England to set measurable and achievable objectives; effective information sharing that takes account of confidentiality; a review of the process for transferring prisoners to hospital; and the need to address the rise in incidents of suicide and self-harm in prisons.

HC 42 SESSION 2017–2019 29 JUNE 2017