Feb 8 2013 by Craig Robertson, Kilmarnock Standard
Nearly £500,000 is to be spent on improving the health of prisoners at HMP Kilmarnock.
It comes on the back of a new report which reveals how inmates have significantly worse health than the general population.
Members of NHS Ayrshire and Arran’s board were told that the cash will be used to make the care given to those inside HMP Kilmarnock more in line with those on the outside.
A report presented to them on the health of the 500 or so prisoners inside stated: “There is significant need above the Ayrshire average.
“Of most concern in the need assessment is the high morbidity and mortality shown through increased prevalence of coronary heart disease and other long term conditions; mental illness, disorder, self harm and suicide; autism; substance misuse; dental caries and other dental problems.”
A change of national legislation in November 2011 meant that local health boards now have to take responsibility to provide health care services at prisons in their areas.
NHS Ayrshire and Arran say they want to “ensure equity of provision with the general population”.
This prompted the assessment of HMP Kilmarnock where health officials uncovered concerns in a number of areas.
They found 80 per cent of nursing time was taken up with dispensing medication, mainly methadone.
This left little other time and “focus was on reactive care rather than preventative and planned care”.
New arrangements have now been brought in which means some prisoners can self-medicate and nurses have been given fresh training to allow other medical services to be given to prisoners.
Health officials were told that the methadone issue was being tackled. In the first 11 months of the prison being under the wing of the NHS board there was “a marked decrease in items prescribed and a planned focus on substitute prescribing has reduced the volume of methadone prescribed.”
During last Monday’s health board meeting concern was raised at the amount of money being spent per head of prisoner population in Kilmarnock compared with health spending on the rest of population.
Members sanctioned funding totalling £462,000.