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Prison healthcare in Wales suffers 'significant workforce challenges', RPS says

There are several challenges facing prison healthcare in Wales that are impacting the quality of services, including problems in recruiting adequate numbers of staff.

The delivery of prison healthcare in Wales is suffering “from significant workforce challenges”, with “large numbers of pharmacy staff” required to improve quality of care for inmates, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in Wales has warned.

In its response to the Welsh Assembly’s Health, Social Care and Sport Committee consultation on health and social care provision in Welsh prisons, the RPS said the current nursing-led model needs to be “readdressed and refocused on the multidisciplinary model of care” with fully integrated pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.

The consultation, which forms part of an inquiry into health and social care provision in Welsh prisons, requested written evidence on “whether healthcare services are meeting the needs of prisoners”, as well as evidence of the pressures facing health and social care provision in prisons, such as workforce issues.  It ran from 19 February 2019 to 14 May 2019.

In its response, the RPS said the workforce “must be based on a fully resourced multidisciplinary team, including large numbers of pharmacy staff, which will give resilience to and improved quality of care within the different prison healthcare services delivered by a multidisciplinary team”.

The RPS added that the prison population should also have access to the common ailments service, in which patients are encouraged to see a pharmacist for any one of 26 minor illnesses, such as indigestion, constipation or cold sores.

But they said that for this to be achieved “there needs to be adequate pharmacy staffing within prisons”, noting a high turnover of prison pharmacy staff currently owing to lack of training and career progression opportunities, in addition to “the element of personal risk of working in a secure environment”.

The RPS recommended a nationwide review of prison healthcare workforce requirements, as well as additional funding.

The Society also highlighted its ‘Optimising Medicines for People in Secure Environments’ professional standards, arguing that while these standards were aimed at services provided in England, they could just as easily be applied to Wales.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206607

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