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Prisoners: Mental Health Services

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 9 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what assessment he has made of the prevalence of mental health problems amongst prisoners aged 60 years and over; (155616)

(2) what assessment he has made of the adequacy of levels of provision of health services in prisons for older prisoners;

(3) what assessment he has made of the health of older prisoners compared with (a) older people in general and (b) younger prisoners.

The information requested is not held centrally.

A thematic review by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, ‘No problems—Old and quiet: Older prisoners in England and Wales’ (2004), examined the health care services available to older prisoners. It found that 85 per cent. of older male prisoners had one or more major illnesses documented in their medical records, and 83 per cent. reported at least one chronic condition. The most common documented illnesses were mental health issues and cardiovascular, musculo-skeletal and respiratory conditions.

A copy is available in the Library and on the Home Office website at:

http://inspectorates.homeoffice.gov.uk/hmiprisons/thematic-reports1/hmp-thematic-older-04.pdf

The Department of Health will publish ‘Pathways to Care for Older Offenders: A Toolkit for Good Practice’ shortly. This good practice toolkit will help enable prison healthcare staff to develop services, backed by a formal, routine assessment process, that meet the health and social care needs of older offenders both during their stay in prison and following release back into the community. A copy will be placed in the Library.