Commenting on new figures released today (Friday 28th September) by the Ministry of Justice that show the prison population has reached a record high, Dr Clare Jenkins, Chairman of the BMA's Civil and Public Services committee said:
"Prison healthcare has been struggling to cope with the dual pressures of underfunding and overcrowding for many months. Prison doctors do not have the resources, infrastructure or time to assess and treat the large numbers of inmates who enter the penal system with severe mental health and drug addiction problems that in many cases have led to their convictions. Prisoners' health is being put at risk and the public are being let down by a system that fails to address the potential causes of a prisoner's criminal activity that in many cases will lead to re-offending after release.
"These new figures demonstrate that the Government's short term emergency measures, announced earlier in the year, have failed to stop the overcrowding crisis. There has also been no action on funding, poor staffing levels or the disorganised state of rehabilitation services.
"The BMA believes that a coherent strategy and additional funding is desperately needed so that the prison healthcare system can fulfil its role of treating prisoners and protecting the public."