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Volume 408: debated on Thursday 3 July 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made in developing the prison health development network between primary care trusts and prisons. [123303]

1 July 2003 marked the launch of the Prison Health Development Network with an event in London attended by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Department (Mr. Goggins) and Sir Nigel Crisp, National Health Service Chief Executive and Department of Health Permanent Secretary.The launch event follows the Home Office announcement on 25 September 2002 that funding responsibility for health care within the Prison Service would become part of the NHS. The front line commissioning responsibility for individual prisons will have transferred to their local primary care trust (PCT) by 1 April 2006.

The aim of the Prison Health Development Network is to support prisons and PCTs and develop their partnership roles. The network will provide invaluable lessons as the gradual transfer of responsibility takes place.

Work on the network has been divided into two separate phases:

Firstly, a diagnostic stage that will involve the PCTs and prisons identifying the potential problem areas for their organisations and highlighting areas of interest that they will be involved in;
The second phase, which will start in September, will focus on helping PCTs and prisons develop practical solutions to the issues identified and share the experience and good practice with others. It is expected that those prisons and PCTs in the network that have made sufficient progress and are ready will 'go live' from April 2004.