To consider the link between responsible commissioner and delayed prison transfers. All hospital transfers from one London prison in 2006 were audited and reviewed by the prisoner's borough of origin.
Overall, 80 prisoners were transferred from the audited prison to a National Health Service (NHS) facility in 2006: 26% had to wait for more than 1 month for assessment by the receiving hospital unit and 24% had to wait longer than 3 months to be transferred. These 80 individuals were the responsibility of 16 different primary care trusts. Of the delayed transfer cases (n=19), the services commissioned by three primary care trusts were responsible for the delays.
There are significant differences in performance between different primary care trusts related to hospital transfers of prisoners, with most hospitals able to admit urgent cases within 3 months. This suggests that a postcode lottery operates for prisoners requiring hospital transfer. Data from prison services may be useful in monitoring and improving the performance of local NHS services.
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