Jail healthcare tantamount to 'failure of prisoners' rights'
HEALTHCARE and dentistry were criticised in an inspection report on South Devon's Channings Wood prison.
But the prison's restorative justice scheme, educational initiatives and anti-drugs work were praised.
The Independent Monitoring Board's annual report said delays in the healthcare for some inmates at the category C facility at Denbury were tantamount to a 'failure of prisoners' rights'.
It stated that a prisoner with a tooth abscess had to wait three weeks for treatment.
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The report also said: "Another prisoner had tissues hanging from holes in his teeth in an attempt to relieve pain and waited nine weeks before being seen, despite attending health care for analgesics ever day."
The report also claims that from September, 2011, until June, 2012, Devon Doctors failed to provide the required number of GP surgeries.
"Prisoners faced unacceptably long delays for appointments and, at times, resistance from nursing staff when requesting to see a doctor or dentist," the report says.
Out of date medication was also found in some cells along with medicines which should be stored in a refrigerator, says the report.
A statement on behalf of NHS Devon, Plymouth and Torbay, Devon Partnership NHS Trust and Devon Health said: "NHS Devon is the commissioner of Prison Healthcare services in HMP Channings Wood and has been working closely with Devon Partnership NHS Trust and Devon Health for several months to take appropriate steps to ensure adequate GP provision in all of the Devon prisons.
"The IMB report praises the work of the mental health team and recognises that there have been difficulties in recruiting qualified nursing staff. This is a widespread problem across the whole of the prison sector, but recently some excellent appointments have been made.
"Devon Partnership NHS Trust and Devon Health have worked hard to improve access to GP and dental services for prisoners and this has shown great improvement. The provision of GP services in the prisons continues to be monitored and during November, for example, 97 per cent of GP shifts were filled and our expectation is that this level of performance will be sustained."
Diligent staff were praised for their work on combating drugs and drink in the prison.
But the report says: "The work is hampered by the reduction of staff and the loss of a dog."
Inspectors said staff morale is 'notably lowered' by the alteration of staffing levels and budget cuts.
The prison's restorative justice scheme and educational initiatives were praised.
Inspectors particularly liked that prisoners were refurbishing old bicycles for charities.
The project has helped Torbay Council win a national partnership recycling award.
The increase of prisoners working into the community was also commended.
A Prison Service spokesman said in response to the report: "The report will be fully considered by Ministers and we will respond in due course.
"We are determined to reduce re-offending and rehabilitate offenders by providing them with opportunities to gain the necessary skills to help find employment on release and, hopefully, to turn away from a life of crime.
"A daily prison regime allocates time for activities, education and rehabilitation."