Commenting on a written statement by the Secretary of State for Justice, announcing measures aimed at reducing the UK's high rate of criminal re-offending, Dr Clare Jenkins, Chairman of the BMA's Civil and Public Services Committee, said:
"Prison doctors will be pleased that the Government has pledged to introduce some of the measures that the BMA has been calling for over the past few years."
"The BMA particularly welcomes the commitment to examine drug rehabilitation programmes and introduce measures to stem the flow of illegal narcotics into prisons. Currently six out of ten prisoners enter prison with a drug dependency problem that in many cases is the direct cause of their criminal behaviour. It is vital that any form of drug addiction is addressed inside prison so that the safety of the public is not compromised.
"However, there is a lack of detail in the Secretary of State's statement that will cause concern amongst prison doctors. Rehabilitation services across the country need more funding, more staff and a greater use of technology, such as an electronic medical records system. There is also a desperate need for better organised support networks and monitoring services in the community.
"The absence of these important measures has left many prison healthcare services in a state of disarray. Prisoners with chronic mental health and drug addiction problems are routinely being released into the community.
"Without a sustained increase in resources and better planning, the prison system will continue to fail the public and prisoners, irrespective of the plans the Government has announced today."