South East Health, a not-for-profit social enterprise, has been named as the new provider of nursing-led health services to offenders in the Sheppey group of prisons and to detainees at Dover Immigration Removal Centre.

As part of the service, offenders and detainees will receive:
• Health screening on reception to ensure any immediate problems are dealt with
• Wide range of nurse-led clinics to address a variety of long term conditions
• Treatments for a wide range of minor illnesses and injuries
• Response to health emergencies within the establishments
• Health screening and vaccination programmes

Ron Owttrim, Chief Executive of South East Health, said: “This unique environment gives us the opportunity to provide high quality care to patients who often have a number of health needs which may have previously been overlooked. South East Health is looking forward to addressing the challenges of working within the prison environment, while developing close working relationships with Her Majesty’s Prison Service (HMPS), our Commissioners and our health care provider colleagues.” Poor health and poor access to health services are often key indicators as to whether someone will re-offend or offend in the first place. South East Health is working in partnership with HMPS and NHS commissioners to provide offenders with a high quality and accessible health service.

Nicholas Watkin, lead commissioner at NHS Kent and Medway, said: “The aim is that this service meets the needs of offenders, while delivering quality health outcomes which help prevent re-offending.”

The service covers the Prisons and Immigration Removal Centre in east Kent including HMP Elmley, HMP Swaleside and HMP Standford Hill, known as the Sheppey Cluster, and Dover Immigration Removal Centre. Collectively, the Sheppey group is the largest cluster of prisons in the UK and holds a population of around 3,000 offenders. Dover IRC holds up to 314 detainees awaiting deportation.

Bernie Mayall, Deputy Director of Offender Health for South East Health, said: “Delivering outstanding person centred healthcare within a prison environment is challenging, motivating and very rewarding and provides an opportunity to impact meaningfully on the government’s objectives for reducing crime and re-offending .” Michelle Jarman-Howe, Deputy Director of Custody for Kent and Sussex said: “We are delighted to announce the successful commencement of the service which began on 1 February and we are already working in partnership with South East Health, dealing with highly individualised and complex health care needs, in a difficult and challenging environment.”