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New procedures to cut delays in transfer of mentally ill prisoners to hospital

  • Nigel McKenzie (a1) and Becky Sales (a2)
Abstract
Aims and Method

We sought to determine whether new procedures recommended by the UK Department of Health in partnership with the Home Office reduced delays in transferring mentally ill prisoners to hospital. Our main outcome measure was time taken from identification of a prisoner's need for transfer to actual transfer to hospital. Waiting times for transfers that took place during 6-month periods before and after introduction of the new procedures were assessed. We also assessed adherence to medication while awaiting transfer.

Results

There was a reduction in mean waiting time from 77 days to 53 days (24 days; 95% CI –2 to 50). Approximately 50% of patients offered medication while awaiting transfer were non-adherent.

Clinical Implications

Despite the new procedures, many individuals with acute mental illness remain untreated in prison for several months while awaiting transfer to hospital. We recommend that time limits should be specified for hospital transfers from prison comparable to norms under civil sections.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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Department of Health (2005) Procedure for the Transfer of Prisoners to and from Hospital under Sections 47 and 48 of the Mental Health Act 1983. Department of Health. http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_4123628
Earthrowl, M., O'Grady, J. & Birmingham, L. (2003) Providing treatment to prisoners with mental disorders: development of a policy. Selective literature review and expert consultation exercise. British Journal of Psychiatry, 182, 299302.
Information Centre (2006) Inpatients Formally Detained in Hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983 and Other Legislation, England: 1994–5 to 2004–5. Information Centre.
Isherwood, S. & Parrott, J. (2002) Audit of transfers under the Mental Health Act from prison: the impact of organisational change. Psychiatric Bulletin, 26, 368370.
Singleton, N., Meltzer, H., Gatward, R., et al (1998) Psychiatric Morbidity among Prisoners in England and Wales. TSO (The Stationery Office).
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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New procedures to cut delays in transfer of mentally ill prisoners to hospital

  • Nigel McKenzie (a1) and Becky Sales (a2)
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