Mental health staff shortfall at prison

The initial inspection of HMP and YOI Grampianshealthcare provision in late 2015 saw it handed a poor grading in terms of health and wellbeing
The initial inspection of HMP and YOI Grampianshealthcare provision in late 2015 saw it handed a poor grading in terms of health and wellbeing

An ongoing shortfall of mental health nursing staff at a Peterhead jail remains of “particular concern” say inspectors.

While there has been a marked improvement in services at HMP and YOI Grampian, inspectors say a fresh model of treatment should be investigated.

But Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership (AHSCP) which provides the services at the prison remains confident in the changes and improvements it is making.

Partnership manager Mark Simpson said: “This is a really good inspection report and I am very proud of the work that our staff have done to turn things around within the healthcare centre at HMP Grampian.

“Yes, we have issues in recruiting mental health nurses, however as stated in the report this is a Grampian-wide problem and as a partnership we have worked closely with the Scottish Prison Service to ensure that our healthcare staff within HMPG are well supported and that the working environment is a positive one. We have already put in place a number of changes, such as offering flexible working and part time work, to how we recruit in order to attract more staff and we will continue to look at every available option when recruiting healthcare staff to HMP Grampian.”

When inspectors visited the prison back in late 2015, a number of concerns were raised in relation to the provision of healthcare and its performance was rated ‘poor’.

Upon their return earlier this year the inspectors saw a major effort by Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership and HMP & YOI Grampian to address their concerns. But it noted that the healthcare team was still operating with fewer permanent staff than deemed necessary.

Wendy Sinclair-Gieben, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland, said: “Of particular concern was the enduring shortage of mental health nurses - an issue that we understand affects the wider NHS Grampian Board area. Given that the shortage of mental health nurses has existed for a number of years, and appears to be a board-wide issue, it may be that Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership and NHS Grampian needs to consider alternative delivery models for mental health services within HMP & YOI Grampian.”