Written Answers. - Prison Medical Service.

Bernard Allen

Question:

554 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he proposes to introduce complementary health care teams as backup for prison doctors. [8045/01]

I have no immediate plans to introduce complementary health care teams as backup for prison doctors. However, as a general principle, I hold that prisoners' health care arrangements should fully match public healthcare provision in the general community.

In November 1999, I established a group to review the structure and organisation of prisons health care services. The terms of reference of this group are: to consider and make recommendations regarding the structure and organisation of primary medical and nursing services within the prison environment in light of the development of health care services generally and the needs of the prison population; to consider and make recommendations regarding the provision of psychiatric services to prisoners – taking into account changes in service provision generally and the potential ramification of possible new mental health legislation; to consider the appropriate need and level of in-house provision of specialist medical services and make recommendations accordingly; to consider structures for the legal and professionally appropriate control of pharmaceutical products within the prison system; to consider the present organisation of prison dental services and make any appropriate recommendations; to consult with all relevant professional and representative bodies in this connection.

The review body is under the chairmanship of Mr. John Olden, a member of the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment of Persons in Custody, and former Secretary of Roinn na Gaeltachta.
The membership of the review group consists of the representatives of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; the Department of Health and Children; the Department of Finance; the Director of Prison Medical Services; a senior prison governor; a nominee of the Irish College of General Practitioners; a nominee of the Royal College of Psychiatry; a nominee of An Bord Altranais; a nominee of the Pharmaceutical Society; a nominee of the Irish Dental Council. As the review is still ongoing, it would not be appropriate for me to make any comment on the group's work at this time. I expect to have a report from the group by mid-2001. It is my intention that this report will be published as soon as possible. Any recommendations made by this group in relation to improving prison health care services will be treated as a matter of priority by me.