Enter & View Visit to HM Prison Wandsworth

Healthwatch Wandsworth decided to visit Wandsworth prison to find out more about the quality of services, particularly for more disadvantaged groups such as older prisoners or those with mental health problems. Read our report on our findings.
There is a wing that holds people with mental health issues but it’s full and has no room. Mental health is a big issue in Wandsworth and there are people in prison that are not mentally well and shouldn’t be in prison they should be in metal health institutions. They are not safe in prison and prisoners don’t feel safe around them.

What we did

Our visits to the prison were conducted over the course of a year and during that time we were able to speak to a variety of people at the prison including the General Manager, prison inmates (including prison Healthcare representatives) and visitors to the prison.

We were also able to attend the Prisoner Forum - all these avenues contributed to us being able to gain a fairly accurate picture of both physical and mental healthcare provision at the prison.

Although we focused primarily on the experience of health and social care services, we considered the prison environment and prison regime more generally in so far as they impacted on either the provision of health and social care or the uptake or experience of health or social care.

The prison is a very large facility with over 1500 prisoners and we wanted to try to gain information from a range of sources as we knew that we would not be able to talk to a large number of prisoners.

Key Findings

Prisoner experiences and ideas for improvement included:

  • Long waiting times and a perceived lack of services, especially mental health services, and lack of social care for some prisoners.
  • Healthcare Reps did not think that either they or prisoners were well enough informed about services and made suggestions about “welcome packs” for prisoners and training for themselves.
  • Centralising the delivery of healthcare services was also mentioned

We also highlighted the:

  • The use of Healthcare Reps is very positive, as is the practice of trying to resolve complaints as “concerns”, in theory allowing swifter resolution. Using prisoners as part of mental health interview panels was also good practice.

  • We strongly welcome the introduction of electronic kiosks for the provision of information and the objective of increasing prisoners’ understanding of the range of services available and the purposes of each service.

Our recommendations for consideration by health services included:

  • Written materials on all healthcare matters including appointment requests, CCC forms and medicines available in a full range of languages used in the prison population.
  • Provision of information and a contact point for relatives and other visitors about health and social care services, especially about any variations in eligibility criteria for remand and sentenced prisoners.
  • The recruitment and training of an adequate and stable number of Healthcare Reps in the new and more challenging situation of a remand prison.
  • Rates of secondary screening should be maintained and increased as the best mechanism for ensuring appropriate and timely health care and referral for social care needs assessment.
  • Screening and provision of services should recognise that age-related health and social care needs within the prison population become apparent at an earlier age than in the general population.
  • In addition to a recommendation in the HMIP report for closer joint working, there could be more rapid identification of social care needs and provision of appropriate support.
  • There should be clearer auditing of referrals for social care and data collection about those deemed ineligible. There should be clear signposting and information for those who are deemed to be ineligible for services.
  • Consideration should be given to the introduction of a single point of access to mental health services including psychosocial interventions for substance misuse.


What happens next?

We have shared our report with managers of health care at HMP Wandsworth and also the commissioners at NHS England who decide on what services are provided at the prison. 

They have provided a written response, including any actions they will take to make improvements. We have arranged to speak to them again to hear about progress on improvements to health care at the prison.

You can download our report and the reponse from the prison healthcare service below. 

Download the reports

Enter & View Visit to HM Prison Wandsworth
Response to the report from prison healthcare services

If you need this report in a different format, please e mail

enquiries@healthwatchwandsworth.co.uk or call 020 8516 7767

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