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What happens if I get ill when I am in prison? Task

If you get ill in prison, you will receive the same healthcare and treatment as anyone outside of prison.  

Primary care services, such as a GP, are the first step to getting help for any health problem. You can ask to see a GP at any time in prison. Your GP may arrange treatment such as talking therapy for you. For more severe mental health conditions, your GP may arrange for you to get help from secondary care services, such as a psychiatrist.  

Your prison will have a ‘Safer Custody Team’, which is there to keep vulnerable prisoners safe. If staff think you are at risk of self-harm or suicide, you will get help under the Assessment, Care in Custody, and Teamwork processes. This is where a plan is put in place to keep you safe.

Your prison will have a healthcare team, so you should have access to a doctor, nurse, dentist and optician.  

Most problems will be dealt with by the prison healthcare team so it’s likely that you will be treated in the prison. Some prisons will have inpatient beds for patients to stay in if they are not well enough to be in the main part of the prison.  

If the problem can’t be dealt with by the prison healthcare team, the prison may get an expert to visit the prison or arrange for treatment in a hospital outside of the prison. If you leave prison to get help, you will have a prison escort. Although outside of the prison, you will stay in the custody of the Prison Service.  

Prisoners do not have to pay for treatment, but any treatment they receive does need to be approved by a prison doctor or member of the prison healthcare team.  

Prisoners can get specialist support for certain problems. These include: 

  • Drug or alcohol addiction 
  • HIV or AIDS 
  • Disabilities or learning disabilities 

Your prison will have a substance misuse service. Staff should refer you to this service if you have used drugs or if you have problems with prescription medication.  

All prisoners have the right to free healthcare, including support for a mental health condition.  

The healthcare team can ask the prisoner’s family doctor for their medical records, but only if the prisoner agrees to it.  

A prisoner can refuse treatment. However, the healthcare team may choose to give treatment if the prisoner is not capable of making decisions themselves (for example if they have a mental health condition). Wherever possible the healthcare team will discuss this with the prisoner’s family first.