Those residing in prison should receive the same quality of treatment as those in the community. You are entitled to the same standard of care as those who receive it from the NHS in the community. The course of action taken by the prison will depend on the type and severity of the illness however all illness should be treated and failure to do so will normally give rise to a claim.
Compassionate release shall be available to those suffering from terminal illness in certain circumstances. For those with indeterminate sentences the criterion is as follows; the prisoner is suffering from a terminal illness and death is likely to occur very shortly, the risk of re-offending is minimal, further imprisonment would reduce the prisoner’s life expectancy, there are adequate arrangements for the prisoner’s care and treatment outside prison, and early release will bring some significant benefit to the prisoner or his/her family.
We have considerable experience of dealing with such issues. An example is we secured the release of a client with severe dementia to a residential care home. The release request was initially opposed by probation, but we obtained psychological evidence to demonstrate the client was not a risk to the public and in light of this the Probation officer change their view and supported release. The Parole Board released the client.
Unfortunately mental illness is not recognised in the same way. The standard of mental health care in prisons varies widely between different prisons. We have significant experience of dealing with prisoners with mental health issues. The Government has been reluctant to expand the use of hospitals to prisoners due to the cost per year of keeping someone in hospital as opposed to prison.
Should a prisoner’s mental health deteriorate to such an extent that they should be sectioned then the prison should transfer the prisoner to hospital under the Mental Health Act. Given the austerity measures those suffering with mental health issues are not as readily identified by prisons and as such it is often imperative to have a lawyer assist.
We have assisted a significant number of prisoners transfer to hospital under the Mental Health Act. Usually, a psychiatric assessment is required as under the Mental Health Act 2 psychiatrists must agree that transfer to hospital is appropriate.
We have assisted clients with personality disorders, schizophrienia and other such conditions transfer to hospital. Often the advantage of hospital is better treatment, a personalised approach, 1:1 interventions and the client is treated as a patient rather than a prisoner.