Prisoner health

Understanding prisoners’ health care needs, their use of health care services and the quality of care received.


Published: 19/02/2018

Project status: Completed

Delivery of health care in prisons and other secure settings (such as immigration removal centres) presents unique challenges, and it is acknowledged there is a lack of quantitative evidence about the quality of health care in these environments.

This research aims to use routine health care data (Hospital Episode Statistics data) to better understand the health care needs of prisoners, their use of health services and how the quality of care for prisoners compares to non-prisoners.

This is vital to ensure prisoners' health needs are met, which is particularly important given the changing nature of the prison population and the need to plan for future health care delivery.

As part of a two-phase project, in phase 1 literature will be reviewed to identify what is known about prisoners’ health care needs and existing measures of health care quality in prisons and other secure settings, as well as any gaps in knowledge.

Phase 2 will use routine data to describe prisoners’ use of secondary health care services – drawing conclusions about quality by comparing key measures to the non-prisoner population, as well as quality indicators emerging from the phase 1 literature review.

Different methodological approaches will be piloted to identify prisoners within Hospital Episode Statistics data. The success or otherwise of these approaches will be a useful indicator of the extent that such data can provide insight into the quality of prisoners’ health care. If the approaches are successful, there is a potential wider application to monitor quality over time.

The project will be supported by an expert panel of representatives working in the area of prisons or prison health care. They will sense-check the findings, provide targeted expertise in their specific knowledge areas and help disseminate the findings more broadly.

The project started in January 2018 and will run until June 2019, when the final report will be submitted.

This work is funded by The Health Foundation. The Health Foundation is an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK.

Please contact Miranda Davies for further details.

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