Investigating prisoners' access to health services.
Medical care (Utilization)
Medical care (Demographic aspects)
|Publication:||Name: Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand Publisher: New Zealand Nurses' Organisation Audience: Trade Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 New Zealand Nurses' Organisation ISSN: 1173-2032|
|Issue:||Date: Oct, 2009 Source Volume: 15 Source Issue: 9|
|Topic:||Event Code: 360 Services information|
|Product:||Product Code: E199650 Prisoners|
|Organization:||Organization: New Zealand Nurses Organisation|
|Geographic:||Geographic Scope: New Zealand Geographic Code: 8NEWZ New Zealand|
The Ombudsmen have begun an investigation into prisoners'
access to primary health services, as funded by the Department of
The investigation, which is an initiative of the ombudsmen themselves, intends examining the differences in the provision, access and availability of health services in prisons, and to identify whether or not some prisons are in a better or worse position (geographically and demographically) to deliver these services. "For example, if you are a prisoner in Invercargill, would you have the same access to a hip replacement as a prisoner in Auckland? It would seem there are differences in the availability of services to prisoners," assistant Ombudsman Quenten Ford suggested.
The investigation will also examine a number of recent deaths in custody investigations, but will exclude some aspects of mental health services for prisoners, as this issue was investigated and reported on last year by the Controller and Auditor-General.
NZNO members are invited to make a submission to the Ombudsman, drawing attention to any particular aspects of prisoners' health care and treatment that concern them. Comments would be welcomed by November 2, emailed to Quenten.Ford@ombudsmen.parliament.nz.
Site visits to the prisons have begun, with a draft report expected to be presented to the Department of Corrections by June 2010.
Meanwhile, the National Health Committee is also investigating the health of prisoners and their families. This project aims to outline ways to improve the health of people in prison and other forms of custody, and the health of their families. It focuses in particular on primary care and continuity of care pre- and post-release. Disproportionate Maori and Pacific incarceration and poor health are areas of particular concern.
According to information on the National Health Committee website (www.nhc.health.govt.nz), New Zealand is imprisoning 23 percent more people now than in 1999, despite a falling crime rate. New Zealand also has the third highest rate of imprisonment in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. International and national evidence shows the health status of prisoners is poorer overall than that of the general population. Vulnerable groups such as Maori, Pacific people, people with low income and low educational achievement are disproportionately represented among the prison population. There is also rapid growth in the numbers of women and older inmates, both groups with higher health needs. A growing body of evidence suggests that the children and partners of prison inmates are adversely affected by their situation.
Prisoners have a far higher prevalence of substance or alcohol abuse, mental illness, and head injury than the general population. This means their health needs are both high and complex. Prisoners are also transferred from institution to institution when required. Continuity of care, both before and after release from prison, is often very hard to ensure.
Contracting out prison management
Addressing the health needs of prisoners is a particular focus in NZNO's recent submission to the Law and Order Select Committee on the Corrections (Contract Management of Prisons) Amendment Bill. This would enable privatising the management of prisons. The submission strongly urges that clinical services remain in the public domain to ensure national standards of training, supervision and professional care. NZNO provides professional services to more than 100 prison nurses. The Corrections Association of New Zealand represents most prison nurses' industrial interests.
"NZNO believes consultation and input from nursing is essential for the development of guidelines around the health of prisoners and that specific provision for this should be made," the submission states.
The full submission is available on the NZNO website www.nzno.org.nz.
|Gale Copyright:||Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.|