Thursday, 13 June 2019
Department of Justice and Equality
Prison Medical Service
115. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the progress of the prison healthcare review following the appointment of the executive clinical lead; when the findings of the review will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24790/19]
I have been advised by the Irish Prison Service that the Executive Clinical Lead was appointed in July 2018. Following that appointment, the Terms of Reference for the review of prison healthcare were agreed between the Department of Justice and Equality, Department of Health, and the Irish Prison Service in August 2018. A Steering Group with representatives from all three organisations was established, and has since considered the requirements for a Health Needs Assessment of the Irish Prison Service.
This assessment will determine the health status of prisoners, the need and demand for healthcare services, while also establishing the current level of healthcare service provision in prisons. It is proposed that this assessment will outline current and future health needs and make recommendations, based on best international practice, to the Steering Group on the future development of health and personal social services. Arrangements to ensure that the public procurement process for the expertise required to complete the Health Needs Assessment are in place. This process has now been advertised, with a closing date in July 2019.
116. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the ratio of medical staff, that is, the number of general practitioners and nurses per prisoner per prison in May 2019; the provision of psychologists, psychiatrists and addiction counsellors per prisoner per prison in May 2019; the number of prisoners on waiting lists per prison to access all such services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24791/19]
I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that it currently directly employs four permanent prison doctors. The Prison Service also delivers general practitioner sessions through the services of locum doctors who are engaged by way of an existing contract agreement. A panel of 30 qualified general practitioners are available to the Irish Prison Service. This equates to approximately 12 whole-time equivalent locum doctors delivering general practitioner sessions across the prison estate. The Prison Service also employ 127.5 whole-time equivalent permanent prison nurses.
I am informed that the Irish Prison Service continues to explore and develop all possible avenues to ensure the recruitment of permanent prison doctors, and procure the services of qualified general practitioners to maintain its delivery of effective general practitioner services. Moreover, the Irish Prison Service has confirmed that it has recently successfully undertaken a recruitment campaign for prison nurses which is expected to realise the employment of a full complement of 143 prison nurses.
The following table below set out the average number of prisoners in each prison and the numbers of nurses assigned to each prison.
|Prison||Average Number of Prisoners in Custody 2018*||Nurses |
|Limerick||247 (33 female, 214 male)||11|
|Wheatfield Place of Detention||452||16.5|
I am further advised by the Irish Prison Service that in-reach mental health services are made available to persons in the custody of the Irish Prison Service through its collaboration with the Health Service Executive, and the National Forensic Mental Health Service. The Irish Prison Service has confirmed that the figures available for the week ending 20 May 2019, indicate that an aggregate of 27 persons in custody were awaiting a transfer to the Central Mental Hospital.
There are 19.8 whole time equivalent Addiction Counsellors posts filled across the prison estate, as shown in the following table. The Irish Prison Service have advised that 2,750 prisoners benefitted from addiction counselling services in 2018. Figures at end April 2019 indicate that there are 314 prisoners who have been referred to the addiction counselling service who are awaiting treatment.
|Prison||Counsellor Posts (WTE)||Ratio – Counsellor: No. of Prisoners|
|Loughan House||1||1: 140|
|Shelton Abbey||0.8||1: 144|
The current waiting list for the Irish Prison Service Psychology Service per prison is set out in the following table. In addition, all prisoners serving sentences for sex offences are screened for potential engagement in the Building Better Lives sex offender programme by the Prison Service Psychology Service and Probation Service.
The Irish Prison Service also employs 10 Assistant Psychologists across the prison estate on one year contracts, who are not included in the ratio of Prison Service Psychologists to prisoners. In the Irish Prison Service, Assistant Psychologists work predominantly in the area of primary care mental health and with young prisoners. They are heavily supervised by qualified Psychologists.
|Prison||Waiting List - awaiting triage or intervention|
|Mountjoy (Female) Dochas||5|
The ratio of Psychologists to prisoner bed space in closed prisons* is set out as follows:
|Prison||Bed space||Psychologist Ratio|
|Midlands||835 (exc NVRU)||1:384|