HC Deb 26 February 1996 vol 272 cc386-7W
Mr. Gerrard

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) how many prisoners in prisons in Scotland are currently known to be terminally ill; and what information is available as to the cause of the terminal illnesses; [16697]

(2) what provision is available to prisoners in Scotland for therapeutic and psychological follow up in the case of positive results in tests for transmissible diseases; [16688]

(3) how many nurses and doctors are employed in the prison service in Scotland per 100 inmates; [16686]

(4) what steps are taken to prevent discrimination against prisoners in Scotland with specific health problems; [16699]

(5) what specific provisions are made for those prisoners in Scotland known to be terminally ill; [16698]

(6) what regular medical checks prisoners in prison in Scotland receive; and what systematic checks are carried out for transmissible diseases; [16685]

(7) what policies the prison service in Scotland has concerning the prevention of transmissible or contagious diseases (a) in general and (b) in respect of specific outbreaks; [16681]

(8) what percentage of the total annual budget for prisons in Scotland is designated for health care: [16700]

(9) what steps are taken to ensure the confidentiality of medical checks on prisoners in Scotland, including where a case of a transmissible disease is identified; [16687]

(10) how many prisoners died in prison in Scotland in each year since 1992; and of these deaths how many were (a) self-inflicted, (b) accidental, (c) homicides, (d) due to disease, (e) due to AIDS, (f) due to tuberculosis, (g) due to cancer and (h) due to vascular and heart disease. [16683]

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

The subject of the questions relate to matters undertaken by the Scottish Prison Service. I have asked the chief executive, Mr. E. W. Frizzell, to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from E. W. Frizzell to Mr. Neil Gerrard, dated 26 February 1996: Lord James Douglas-Hamilton has asked me to reply to your questions about health matters in Scottish Prisons. The Scottish Prison Service has since the mid-1980s encouraged prisoners, where appropriate, to undergo testing for transmissible diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis. Where appropriate, prisoners are also encouraged to have tests for other transmissible conditions such as venereal disease. In all cases arrangements are made to ensure that the prisoner understands the purpose of the test prior to its being undertaken. Prisoners are offered psychological counselling and support when the result becomes available if they so desire. Those who do test positive for diseases which require treatment are then encouraged to undergo regular health checks in order that any deterioration in their physical and mental well-being is minimised. Where appropriate such monitoring is carried out within the prison setting but where necessary the prisoner may be sent to an appropriate facility within the NHS. The Scottish Prison Service has at no time pursued a policy of segregation for prisoners who have been found to be positive with HIV. The Scottish Prison Service offers medical checks as appropriate to prisoners for a variety of conditions including coronary vascular disease, asthma and diabetes. Appropriate measures are taken to minimise the risk of spread of HIV and Hepatitis by a variety of means including awareness counselling and the provision of bleach. Health and hygiene measures are in place to prevent the spread of other diseases. In any instance where there is an outbreak of transmissible disease the Service's Medical Adviser initiates extra measures to provide support to staff and prisoners. All steps are taken to ensure medical confidentiality and no information is imparted to any third party without the prisoner's permission. Records are not kept centrally of the number of prisoners who are terminally ill. For those prisoners who are in the terminal stage of an illness Section 3(1) of the Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Act 1993 makes provision for the Secretary of State to grant early release on compassionate grounds. SPS policy is to deliver a standard of primary care equal to that which an individual receives in the community. Just over 3% of the total Scottish Prison Service total annual budget is devoted to health care. Medical officers in Scottish prisons are usually general practitioners appointed part-time. There are at present 3 full-time medical officers and provision for 28 part-time medical officers. In addition, we have 142 nursing staff, including nursing managers, clinical supervisors, practitioner nurses and a small number of health care assistants. This is equivalent to approximately 2.5 nursing staff per 100 prisoners. Because the medical staff are part-time and offer variable numbers of hours in their contracts each month, it is not practical to calculate a ratio of doctors to prisoners. Finally, the information you asked for on prisoner deaths in Scotland in each year since 1992 and the causes is as follows:

1992 1993 1994 1995
Self-inflicted 9 5 16 10
Accidental (including overdoses) 2 2
Cancer 1
Vascular/Heart Disease 2 1 3 1
Other Disease 2 1 3 2
Homicide 1