Edinburgh Prison health provision review urged

Edinburgh Prison The chief inspector of prisons visited the jail in September

An inspection of Edinburgh Prison has highlighted a shortage of medical care for inmates with mental health and addiction problems.

A new report said healthcare at the jail is good but limited staff numbers have led to delays for prisoners accessing some services.

Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland David Strang said NHS Lothian should carry out a review.

He said it should have emphasis on mental health and addiction provisions.

It is one of 69 recommendations in a report which describes the jail as generally well-run and highlights 18 areas of good practice.

'Attempting to improve'

The inspector said: "Healthcare in general is good. However prisoners requiring addictions and mental health interventions can experience delays.

"There are concerns regarding the high levels of staff turnover especially among the mental health and addictions nurses. NHS Lothian recognise these issues and are attempting to improve matters."

One woman prisoner who had been referred to an addictions nurse in June had still not been assessed by the inspector's visit in September, he said.

HMP Edinburgh in the city's Saughton area houses both male and female prisoners, long-term, short-term and sexual offenders, and people still awaiting trial.

It holds a total of 907 prisoners, exceeding its 870 design capacity. In some cases different types of prisoner are required to share cells.

Good practice

The inspection found evidence of positive relations between staff and inmates but the levels of "minor" prisoner-on-prisoner assaults were high in comparison with other jails.

Prisoners receive about 15 hours of "purposeful activity" each week, compared to a 22-hour average across the Scottish Prison Service.

Mr Strang said: "Overall this is a satisfactory report on HMP Edinburgh, which highlights areas of good practice and identifies where there is potential and opportunity for improvement.

"The high prison numbers and the complexity of the population mix adds a particular challenge to the prison.

"The inspectorate will continue to monitor the progress the prison makes in implementing its action plan in response to the recommendations and looks forward to seeing the areas of good practice taken up throughout prisons in Scotland.

"HMP Edinburgh is well placed to build on its strong foundations to deliver what is required of it."

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