Healthcare in prison

Prisoners get the same healthcare and treatment as anyone outside of prison.

Treatment is free but has to be approved by a prison doctor or member of the healthcare team.

Prisons do not have hospitals, but many have in-patient beds.

Most problems are dealt with by the healthcare team. If they cannot, the prison may:

  • get an expert to visit the prison
  • arrange for treatment in an outside hospital

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

Special help and support

Prisoners can get specialist support, for example if they:

  • have drug or alcohol problems
  • have HIV or AIDS
  • are disabled or have a learning difficulty

Refusing medical treatment

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 they have a mental health condition).

Wherever possible, the healthcare team will discuss this with the prisoner’s family first.