10.We launched our inquiry into prison health and healthcare with a call for written evidence on 27 April 2018. Our inquiry focused not only on prisoners’ experiences of health and care services, but also on how the prison environment and regime affects their health and wellbeing. In addition, we have explored the effectiveness of current arrangements covering the oversight, commissioning and regulation of prisons and prisons health and care services. We received just under 60 written submissions and are grateful to everyone who took the time and effort to respond. This is a rich body of evidence which we hope will add to public and political debate on this issue.
11.In addition to our open call for evidence, we worked with Inside Time, a national newspaper for prisoners and detainees, to seek responses from people detained in prison. We received 25 responses to our call. These responses, while disturbing in many instances, are descriptive and insightful accounts of the conditions inside some prisons, which have complemented much of what we have heard through other sources. We are grateful to Inside Time and all the people who wrote to us.
12.As part of our inquiry we visited the Greenwich Cluster in South East London in June. The cluster is home to three prisons: HMP Belmarsh, HMP Thameside and HMP/YOI Isis. These three prisons have been designed to cater for different categories of prisoners. The level of security varies accordingly. HMP Belmarsh and HMP Isis are both public prisons, while HMP Thameside is a private prison run by Serco. Our visit helped to build our understanding of the variation that exists across the prison estate and the key problems affecting health and healthcare inside prisons from those on the frontline. We toured the prisons and went inside a prison cell. We also spoke to prisoners, prison officers, senior management staff and with providers and commissioners of health and care services across the estate. We are grateful to everyone involved in our visits.
13.We held a workshop with 18 representatives from across the health and penal systems in June, at which we discussed their views on the main problems which were shown by the written evidence we had received, and on the objectives and priorities of the National Prison Healthcare Board’s Partnership Agreement 2018–2021. This workshop helped form the basis of our oral evidence programme, which consisted of two sessions on 3rd and 10th of July. These sessions were held jointly with the Justice Committee, which is exploring the implications of changes to the prison population. The evidence we gathered during these sessions was enhanced by the active participation of the Justice Committee members, who brought their expertise to bear on questions relating to our inquiry. We are grateful to the Justice Committee and all the stakeholders we heard from, both at our workshop and in oral evidence.
Published: 1 November 2018