The mental health care available at Northern Ireland jails have come in for sharp criticism, as six prisoners are reported to have committed suicide inside the premises of the prisons since 2002. The mental health problems of the prisoners have to be addressed to prevent such incidences from recurring, according to Professor Roy McClelland of the Queen's University.
Previous recommendations with regard to this have not reportedly been implemented, and better connectivity is required between the prison service and the health service. Prisoners are said to be more vulnerable than other members of the community. The prisoners do not have access to modern mental health services. It has been recommended that the Health and Personal Social Services (HPSS) take responsibility for the mental health of the inmates of prisons, which is expected to take place by the month of April 2007.
The 30 recommendations made by the Review Team are also to be implemented. The Edinburgh Prison is particularly notorious with regard to the lack of mental health facilities. The prisons also suffer from a shortage of mental health staff. A patient has to wait for as long as four to five days to see a doctor at some of them. It is even worse when a prisoner wants to see a dentist or an optician.