It’s a disgrace that thousands of prisoners with severe mental illness who require hospitalisation are being held in prison because of bed shortages in secure NHS units.

Recent responses to Freedom of Information Requests revealed that over half of the 5,403 prisoners in England assessed by psychiatrists as needing a hospital bed were not transferred between 2016 and 2021. Sadly the mental health of those who aren’t transferred to hospital quickly often deteriorates, and many go on to reoffend.

Responding to me at this week’s Justice Questions, the Secretary of State said there would be cross-party support for measures in the upcoming Mental Health Bill that ensure prison doesn’t remain ‘a place of safety’ for seriously ill prisoners who should instead be in hospital. I look forward to reading the Bill and hope that its approach will be as positive for prisoners’ health as the Justice Secretary suggests.


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