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Prisoners: Epilepsy

Volume 497: debated on Monday 12 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what information is given to people with epilepsy on the care they will receive on their entry to (a) a prison and (b) a young offender institution; (289951)

(2) how many people diagnosed with epilepsy died in (a) prisons and (b) young offender institutions in each of the last five years;

(3) on how many occasions emergency medical care has been requested to treat people with epilepsy suffering a seizure in (a) prisons and (b) young offender institutions in each of the last five years;

(4) how many people diagnosed with epilepsy were allocated to a single cell in (a) prisons and (b) young offender institutions in each of the last five years;

(5) how many people diagnosed with epilepsy entered status epilepticus while held in (a) prisons and (b) young offender institutions in each of the last five years.

Offenders are now all screened on arrival in prison by a trained nurse or trained officer to find out what their health needs are and get them the right treatment.

The Department of Health and the Prison Reform Trust have recently published two new information books for prisoners with a disability. The first book is a short, easy-read version for prisoners with learning disabilities, the second book contains more in depth detail for prisoners on their health, daily life, and how to get help in prison and on release this includes information on epilepsy.

Epilepsy action has produced information giving clear, straightforward information about epilepsy, relevant for staff supervising prisoners with epilepsy and for prisoners. This is available online at:

www.epilepsy.org.uk

The online printable information includes:

Epilepsy facts and important things to know about anti-epileptic drugs

Cell and bunk allocation

Safety

Risk of dying from epilepsy and sudden unexpected death in epilepsy

Employment and safety at work

Types of seizures (fits) and non-epileptic attack disorder

Myths and misunderstandings—information for prison staff

The Department of Health will shortly be writing to all prison and young offender institution heads of health care about the NICE guidelines on epilepsy and the Epilepsy Action information booklets.

There is no information held centrally on the number of offenders diagnosed with epilepsy who died in prisons and young offender institutions, on how many occasions emergency medical care has been requested to treat people with epilepsy having a seizure in prisons and young offender institutions, how many people diagnosed with epilepsy were allocated to a single cell in prisons and young offender institutions and how many people diagnosed with epilepsy entered status epilepticus while held in prisons and young offender institutions in each of the last five years.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what guidance his Department provides to staff in (a) prisons and (b) young offender institutions on the effect of restraint techniques on people affected by seizures. (289952)

Control and restraint (C&R) is a system of techniques used within both prisons and young offender institutions in order to bring a violent or non-compliant prisoner under control. C&R is only applied in circumstances where it is necessary to do so and any force used is applied for as short a time as possible and only in proportion to the violence shown by the prisoner. Staff are instructed to avoid use of force wherever possible and instead to use persuasion or negotiation to end such incidents, however, this is not always possible.

All staff in prisons and young offender institutions who employ C&R techniques are trained in their use and undergo annual refresher training. This training includes recognition of the signs and symptoms that may indicate that a prisoner is in medical distress. Guidance on medical warning signs is also included in prison service order (PSO) 1600 “Use of Force1”.

A member of health care must, wherever reasonably practicable, attend every incident where staff are deployed to restrain violent or disturbed prisoners. Health care staff are authorised to terminate any use of force in the event of a medical emergency.

1 Available at:

http://pso.hmprisonservice.gov.uk/pso1600/default.htm