Prisoners' experiences of healthcare

Lead: Dr Laura Sheard

Collaborators: Dr Nat Wright (Spectrum Healthcare).

Prisoners are often in poor health and have high levels of long term illness, disability and death especially when compared with the health of people who are not in prison. There are lots of reasons why this might be the case and it means that prisoners often become unequal to those people living in the community with regards to their health. Researchers know little about the healthcare that people receive when they are in prison and in particular the quality of this healthcare (how good it is). Some prisoners have many short prison sentences and then get released back into the community, meaning they tend to move around a lot. Because of this, there is a risk that their healthcare needs are not met when they switch a lot between prison and community healthcare services.  

Feedback from patients about their healthcare is an area of key interest for many healthcare organisations, particularly in the acute hospital sector. However, there is a severe paucity of research relating to the patient experience of prisoners and little is known about:

  1. how prisoners understand the experience of their healthcare whilst within the prison estate 
  2. how staff may use this data to make improvements. 

Through RCF funding, a scoping review was undertaken regarding what is currently known internationally about patient experience feedback in prisons. Secondly, a small scale exploratory study (two prisons) took place to ascertain from a multi-level staff perspective the types of data that are currently considered and how and why they are acted upon (or not). A small sample of prisoners also took part in interviews to ascertain their experience of prison healthcare and where improvements could be made. Finally, a small amount of documentary analysis was undertaken to understand what happens to any feedback and how complaints are responded to. 

The knowledge generated from this project enabled us to formulate research questions around patient experience in the prison environment, which were taken forward to a HS&DR application.    

                                                                                                                                           Contact | Dr Laura Sheard |