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New guidance to improve access to NHS screening for people in secure and detained settings

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Dr Éamonn O’Moore, left, PHE National Lead for Health & Justice, and Dr Jake Hard, chair of the RCGP Secure Environments Group, have welcomed the new guidance

The PHE Screening inequalities strategy sets out our commitment to make sure all eligible individuals have equitable access to NHS screening programmes.

People in prisons and other secure and detained settings often come from under-served populations with health problems and a higher risk of many conditions for which the NHS screens. In addition, commissioners and providers face a number of challenges in delivering NHS screening services in secure settings that are equivalent to those in the community.

That is why we have developed and published new national guidance on reducing screening inequalities in prisons and other secure settings.

This new publication includes:

  • roles and responsibilities of all partners involved in the provision of screening in secure and detained settings
  • guidance for commissioners
  • guidance for local screening providers
  • guidance for prison healthcare teams
  • feedback from a panel of former prisoners
  • programme-specific information on the provision of each of the national NHS screening programmes in secure and detained settings

Dr Éamonn O’Moore, PHE National Lead for Health & Justice, said:

I welcome this new guidance and commend it to everyone involved in the provision of screening in secure settings. People in prison are NHS patients who are entitled to the same level of healthcare as people in the community, including access to screening services. Healthcare commissioners, providers and prison services should all ensure that people in prison have appropriate access to screening, and this guidance supports them in doing that.

Dr Jake Hard, clinical lead for the new Health and Justice Information system and chair of the Royal College of GPs Secure Environments Group, said:

Ensuring timely access to national NHS screening programmes is an important step in reducing health inequalities and providing equivalent healthcare to people in secure settings. PHE has produced this useful resource to help ensure all the information needed by both commissioners and providers is located centrally, thereby helping to improve the quality and consistency of the approach to the uptake of screening services.

Settings covered by the guidance include immigration removal centres, secure children’s homes, secure training centres and young offender institutions as well as prisons.

Information on screening people in high, medium and low secure hospitals is already included in another national guidance publication, Population screening: access for people with severe mental illness.

Input from lived experience panel

In developing the guidance, we consulted with:

  • the national NHS screening programme teams in PHE
  • national and regional NHSEI health and justice (H&J) teams
  • the NHSEI national public health commissioning team
  • the PHE national H&J team
  • North West screening and immunisation teams
  • NHS Digital
  • the East Midlands Health and Justice Lived Experience Panel

The input of people from the East Midlands lived experience panel who have been in prison recently made sure the guidance:

  • stresses the importance of continuity of care on admission to prison, on release and when being transferred between establishments
  • recommends the automatic and immediate transfer of health information between establishments and community primary care systems
  • recommends all prisons have health champions who can provide peer support, information and reassurance about screening to fellow prisoners

PHE Screening blog

The PHE Screening blog provides up to date news from all NHS screening programmes. You can register to receive updates direct to your inbox, so there’s no need to keep checking for new blogs. If you have any questions about this blog article, or about population screening in England, please contact the PHE screening helpdesk.

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