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Mentally Ill: Prisoners

Volume 493: debated on Monday 1 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what response he has made to the recommendation made in the Bradley Report on people with mental health problems in the criminal justice system for a minimum target for the NHS of 14 days to transfer a prisoner with acute, severe mental illness to an appropriate healthcare setting. (276616)

The Department is currently exploring ways to make progress towards a 14-day standard waiting time for transfers, through the provision of guidance and support to the national health service and criminal justice system to work in closer partnership and reduce delays for this vulnerable group.

The Government recognise that there is a need to improve the timeliness of access to secure mental health care by prisoners with acute, severe mental illness. In his report on people with mental health problems or learning disabilities in the criminal justice system (published 30 April 2009), Lord Bradley has recommended that a target of 14 days should be set. The Government’s Health and Criminal Justice Board, which is just being established, will consider the feasibility of such a target. It will also ensure that where further guidance to the NHS and criminal justice agencies is necessary, this is issued by 2010, so that along with improved commissioning of services and availability of secure health services, the goals of improved security and timely access to secure health services by prisoners can be achieved.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average waiting time for transfer from prison to hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983 was in (a) each primary care trust area, (b) each prison and (c) England in (i) 2005, (ii) 2006, (iii) 2007 and (iv) 2008. (276617)

Information is not available in the requested format. Each prison records the waiting time for mental health transfers, starting from acceptance as suitable for transfer under the Mental Health Act 2007 to actual transfer date. Data on individual prisons are reported by each primary care trust but are not collected centrally.

The indicator which is traditionally reported nationally is the number awaiting transfer for 12 weeks or longer. These data are collected quarterly and data for the four most recent years are shown in the following table.

Number of prisoners with a severe mental illness, and who had been waiting longer than 12 weeks for transfer from prison to hospital, in England 2005-08

Reporting period

Number of individuals waiting longer than 12 weeks for a transfer to hospital

March 2005


June 2005


September 2005


December 2005


March 2006


June 2006


September 2006


December 2006


March 2007


June 2007


September 2007


December 2007


March 2008


June 2008


September 2008


December 2008



Offender Mental Health—Department of Health/Ministry of Justice