To describe the change in the number of referrals of prisoners and the delay in transfer to hospital under the Mental Health Act following a change in the prison health care provision. The transfer time (time from referral to transfer to psychiatric hospital) of prisoners has been audited previously over 1996 and 1997.
There has been an increase in the number of prisoners transferred. Both transfers under Section 48 of the Mental Health Act and the proportion of transfers to high security have increased. The average delay in transfer remains lengthy and there is a trend of increasing delay with increasing level of placement security.
Despite Government policies to facilitate the transfer of mentally disordered offenders, we found an increase in the delay to hospital compared with previous audits.
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