Technology to reduce the number of patients leaving Prison for healthcare

Innovative video consultations already piloted in Millom are being extended to Haverigg prison. The aim of the project is to reduce the number of journeys from the prison to the nearest Accident and Emergency Department at Furness General Hospital, which is a 45 minute drive away.

Haverigg Prison is a Category C men's prison, located in the village of Haverigg in Cumbria, which generates an increasing number of journeys each year to Furness General Hospital Emergency Department.

The scheme, which is currently being piloted by University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust and Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, as part of Better Care Together, involves a high definition video camera and monitor located in one of the consulting rooms within the Health Care Centre at Haverigg Prison. There is similar equipment within the Emergency Department (ED) at Furness General Hospital which allows a senior doctor to virtually assess the prison based patient and triage their follow on care.

Caroline Gardner, HMP Haverigg Business Support Manager, said:

“This is an exciting development for healthcare within Haverigg prison. It means that staff working in the Health Care Centre at the prison can call on expert advice from hospital specialists to determine whether the patient can be treated within the prison or if they require attendance to the Emergency Department. This initiative could have a huge impact on the number of journeys out of the prison.”

This way of working promotes quicker access to appropriate healthcare and can reduce the number of unnecessary journeys to Furness General Hospital.

Zoe Potgieter, Head of Healthcare, Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“It is very exciting for HMP Haverigg to be a part of this Better Care Together initiative which has been greatly supported and welcomed by the Governor. The use of video consultations will accelerate the time from which a prisoner, who would normally need to attend the Emergency Department, receives either a diagnosis or further plan of care in real time.”

Paul Grout, Deputy Medical Director, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“The innovative telehealth link will allow senior clinicians from Furness General Hospital to support staff and patients within a rural prison. Currently, patients have to attend the department in order to be assessed, whereas a proportion of these consultations could be conducted via the telehealth link, reducing the number of unnecessary attendances to the Emergency Department.”

Video consultations can overcome the associated issues with taking a prisoner outside of custody including the Prison Officers time to escort them which averages at approximately six hours including organisation and travel time.

The consultation between the Emergency Department doctor and the prison based patient will be supervised by a Clinician at the prison. Following the consultation, if transport to the Emergency Department is required, this would be arranged.
The pilot will run for six months and will be available during the opening hours of the Health Care Centre within the Prison.