Mental health services at overcrowded Inverness jail are to be improved following a visit by watchdog inspectors – including additional nurses and better access to psychological care.
Officials from the Mental Welfare Commission made an announced visit to the Victorian Porterfield Prison in September.
They made recommendations for an extra mental health nurse and improved psychological provision, and yesterday NHS Highland confirmed it was implementing these.
In a report published yesterday, the inspectors said: “There is currently only one mental health nursing post within the nursing complement in the health centre in the prison.
>> Keep up to date with the latest news with The P&J newsletter
“The mental health nursing service in the prison is very much a person dependent service, which does create issues in terms of prioritising work and providing mental health nursing cover when the post holder is on leave.”
They added: “The consultant forensic psychiatrist has a weekly clinic in the prison and is available for advice in urgent situations.”
But the report noted: “There is no clinical psychology provision within the prison and other psychological therapies are not available to prisoners either.”
The inspectors said mental health nurses in other prisons had trained to deliver specific psychological therapies, but they added: “It is difficult to see how interventions could be made available in HMP Inverness, with only one mental health nurse post.
“There would be issues releasing a single post holder to complete training, and subsequently allowing them to deliver training, when they have to prioritise other clinical tasks within the health centre.
“We heard that a substantial number of prisoners would benefit from having access to low level psychological therapies delivered by health centre staff, or accessed online or by the telephone.”
An NHS Highland spokesman said: “Increasing the mental health nursing team is a key priority and we have recently recruited to the addictions nurse post.
“The successful applicant commences in early 2019 and we have plans to recruit a further mental health nurse.
“We are also in a position where we are developing the role of psychology with two posts being considered to cover forensic/prison and drugs and alcohol.
“This will support integrated working and ensure throughcare plans are in place. These actions are well supported by our Scottish Prison Service colleagues and will be aligned with wider work to support those in our care.”