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Health provisions should be reviewed 'urgently' finds prison report

'Overall this is a satisfactory report on HMP Edinburgh' says Prisons for Scotland chief inspector.

Saughton: Blair-Wilson is charged with taking drugs into the Edinburgh prison.
© Deadline

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

A new report says healthcare at the jail is good in general but limited staff numbers have been leading to delays for prisoners accessing some services.

Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland David Strang said NHS Lothian should carry out a review, with emphasis on mental health and addiction provisions, "as a matter of urgency".

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

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 designed 870 capacity. In some cases different types of prisoner are required to share cells.

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 around 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."

Edinburgh's jail dates back to 1591, first as the Canongate Tolbooth and later in 1808 as Calton Gaol. The land where the prison currently sits was purchased in 1913 and the jail opened in 1920. Today's facility was rebuilt in stages and completed in 2009.

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