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Inspector of Prisons Report: Healthcare in Irish Prisons

22nd February 2017

IPRT welcomes the Review of Prison Healthcare cited by Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald on the publication of the report Healthcare in Irish Prisons on 21st February 2017. This was the final report of Judge Michael Reilly, RIP, who passed away in November 2016.

On publication of the report, the Tánaiste said:

“The report makes a number of timely recommendations regarding the provision of healthcare in prisons. I have recently been in discussions with my colleague the Minister for Health about a Review of Prison Healthcare. Such a Review will address many of the issues raised by Judge Reilly. Terms of Reference are being finalised. Once these are agreed and the Review is undertaken, I will be better placed to decide on how to proceed in terms of the recommendations of this report.”

Background to the Report

In a report from April 2011 – Guidance on Physical Healthcare in a Prison Context – Judge Reilly drew attention to deficiencies and variances in the standard of healthcare in Irish prisons.

This report notes the Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) found serious issues in prison health, and recommended a review of healthcare in Irish prisons, in a report to the Government in November 2015.

IPRT welcomes the action on this recommendation, and hopes it can be progressed with urgency

Aims of the Report

The report has three stated aims:

  • To restate the absolute entitlement of prisoners to healthcare and, and to make the case for such healthcare to be provided by the Department of Health;
  • To point to the necessity of carrying out a health needs assessment of prisoners and a staffing needs analysis in each prison;
  • To give guidance to the IPS, prison management, and the providers of healthcare in the prisons as to what will be expected of them in the area of healthcare when inspections are carried out by the Office of the Inspector of Prisons.

Recommendations of the report include:

  • That responsibility for the provision of healthcare be transferred from the IPS to the HSE;
  • A health needs assessment of prisoners in all prisons should be undertaken immediately, with the lead in the assessment being a clinician;
  • A healthcare staffing needs analysis for each prison should be undertaken on the completion of the health needs assessment, with this analysis being clinically led;
  • The healthcare staffing needs analysis must reflect the health needs assessment of prisoners in each particular prison, and should not be influenced by operational or other non-healthcare considerations other than healthcare staff and custody staff working together in ensuring prisoners are escorted to the nurse/doctor appointment or to outside hospitals etc.;
  • The health needs assessment of prisoners and the staffing needs analysis must be published for each prison;
  • The health needs of prisoners and by extension the staffing needs of each prison must be kept under constant review as prison populations change, as do the cohort of prisoners in all prisons;
  • A public response to this report should be made, either accepting the recommendations of the report and giving time lines for implementation, or rejecting this report, with reasons for such rejection given.

Ireland is due to be examined by the UN Committee against Torture in July 2017.

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