Healthcare in Prisons


About the Inquiry


In 2011 responsibility for the provision of health care in prisons transferred from the Prison Service to the NHS.  It is now the responsibility of the local Integration Authority. The RCN published its report “Five years on”, in December 2016, which is an in depth piece of work looking at the transfer of responsibilities.

The aim of this inquiry is:

  • To consider how health and social care is delivered in prisons and the cost of the service;
  • To consider access to health and social care and medicines in prisons;   
  • To highlight current and future pressures on the service; and
  • To consider the effectiveness of health and social care in prisons.


A questionnaire will be directed at relevant Integration Authorities and NHS Boards and the Scottish Prison Service.

A targeted call for written evidence will be issued to highlight current issues and pressures on the system linked to the above aims. This will be issued to the Scottish Prison Service, representatives of people delivering health care in prisons (including nurses, GPs, dentists, pharmacists, AHPs and third sector organisations) and HM Inspector of Prisons.  In addition prisoner and family support groups will be invited to respond.                                               

This will be followed by two informal sessions with key stakeholders, one with health care staff working in prisons and one with former prisoners, to highlight current and future pressures on the service. 

Thereafter the Committee will hold a roundtable meeting with interested groups and a formal evidence session with those responsible for the delivery and oversight of health care in prisons. At such a session the Committee will aim to discuss and consider wider issues including the extent to which health inequalities can be addressed in the prison healthcare system.

The Committee will write separately to the SPSO to seek further information on complaints regarding prison healthcare, the subjects which are most frequently complained about and the proportion of complaints upheld, by area.


On Friday 3 February the Committee Issued a Call for Views from any interested organisations or individuals. A separate call was made to health boards and integration authorities. The call for views closed on 28 February and 35 responses were received.

Read the written submissions

The Committee held informal evidence sessions, one with health care staff working in prisons on 7 March and one with former prisoner on 14 March.

The informal evidence sessions were followed by a roundtable evidence session with stakeholders on 14 March and a panel evidence session with those responsible for the delivery and oversight of health care in prisons on 28 March. These were followed by an evidence session with the Minister for Public Health and Sport also on the 28 March.


On 10 May the Committee published its report into Healthcare in Prisons.

On 10 July 2017 the Minister for Public Health and Sport responded to the Committee's report.

On 22 February 2019, the Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing wrote to the Committee with an update on work undertaken since the publication of our report and the recommendations therein.

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