Previous Section Index Home Page

19 Oct 2005 : Column 1094W—continued

Hospital Operations (Cancellations)

Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the average number of operations which have been cancelled in each hospital or trust in Northern Ireland has been in each quarter in the last three years. [19549]

Mr. Woodward: This information is not collected centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Hydebank Wood Centre

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he has taken to implement the recommendations by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission for improving conditions for female prisoners at the Hydebank Wood Centre in Belfast. [18904]

Mr. Woodward: The Prison Service has placed women prisoners' needs centre stage, and has made significant progress against the recommendations made by both the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) and the CJINI/HMCIP Inspection Team in its report on Ash House published in May 2005.

Key developments to date include:

1. Recognition of the special needs of women in custody, with gender specific programmes and policies, including policies on:

Policies on these topics will shortly be issued for consultation.
19 Oct 2005 : Column 1095W

2. Ash House now has a distinct gender specific identity, supported by a discrete management structure:

3. Child-centred visits are being further developed. Additional monthly child centred visits are available for life sentenced prisoners. NIPS is exploring the possibility of allowing children to stay overnight with their mother in prison occasionally.

4. Women prisoners have access to a wider range of education, work and rehabilitative programmes specifically linked to the skills requirements of women prisoners, which should enhance their prospects of acquiring employment upon release from custody. They also have access to a working out scheme. Specifically:

5. All women receive a healthcare screening on committal to prison and they are offered the opportunity to join a well women" clinic. There is 24 hour nursing care available and women prisoners have access to a female doctor. A Health Needs assessment of the women in Ash House is scheduled for later this year. Psychologists are currently preparing an in-depth analysis of the offending behaviour needs of women prisoners and the prisoners will be consulted extensively in its development.

6. The Prison Service is committed to gender specific training of the staff working with women prisoners. Training already delivered includes:

Further training will include:

19 Oct 2005 : Column 1096W

7. On self-harm and suicide, a new committee has been established on which prisoners are represented. A buddy scheme has been set up and 24 free telephone access to the Samaritans has been provided. A new self harm policy is being drafted and women who need to be observed can now remain on general association. Two Cognitive Behavioural Therapy nurses were recruited in June from a local Health Trust to work with women prisoners.

8. Installation of in-cell sanitation has begun in Beech House and the Service plans for the women prisoners to move there early next year, while facilities are being installed in the cells at Ash House. In the meantime, women have access to lavatories on request.

Notwithstanding these improvements, the Prison Service recognises that Ash House may not be the most suitable long-term option to house women prisoners and alternative accommodation is being considered as part of the Service's on-going strategic development programme. This is designed to map out the way forward for the next 10–15 years. It will also examine the feasibility of housing long term women prisoners separately from short term women prisoners.

In the meantime, the Prison Service will continue to work, in partnership with others in the public, private and voluntary sectors, and with women in custody to improve its performance further. Indeed, the Human Rights Commission has been given access to Ash House—to the facilities and to the women who want to be interviewed—to monitor the current situation independently.

However, this issue is not something for the Prison Service alone. Many agencies and the community as a whole have a role to play in ensuring that support measures are in place to reduce the likelihood of vulnerable women ending up in custody and to cater for the reintegration and resettlement needs of those sent to prison.

Influenza Vaccination

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent steps he has taken to promote the influenza vaccination among Northern Ireland's elderly population. [18909]

Mr. Woodward: The launch of the annual influenza immunisation programme on 3 October attracted a considerable amount of TV and press coverage, and this was followed by an advertising campaign inviting elderly and other at risk patients to catch the vaccine not the flu". Most GPs will issue personal invitations to their elderly patients to come for the vaccination.

In addition a supply of leaflets about the benefits of immunisation have been distributed to all GP practices, libraries, pharmacies, residential and nursing homes. Translink are involved in the campaign displaying posters, promoting the flu programme, on their vehicles.
19 Oct 2005 : Column 1097W

Maritime Safety

Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many deaths due to drowning on the coasts around Northern Ireland there have been in each of the last 10 years. [18225]

Angela E. Smith: The following table gives the number of deaths registered in Northern Ireland, for each year between 1995 and 2004, due to drownings 1 outside the home. It is not possible to say where these drownings occurred.

Number of deaths registered in Northern Ireland due to drownings outside the home, 1995–2004

Registration yearNumber of deaths

(44)Data for 2004 is provisional.

19 Oct 2005 : Column 1098W

Next Section Index Home Page