In the last four years health services in public sector prisons in England have undergone a period of rapid reform and modernisation. Before this, prisoners' health care was characterised by over‐medicalisation, isolation from the NHS, and lack of education and training for health care staff. As part of this process of reform, responsibility for funding and commissioning these services has moved from the Prison Service to the National Health Service (NHS). The results so far seem encouraging. Services are better funded, standards have improved and there is significant progress in developing a strong partnership between the key partners ‐ the Prison Service and the NHS ‐ at national and local levels. These reforms address human rights and the aim of the Prison Health Unit, that prisoners should be able to expect their health needs to be met adequately by services that are broadly equivalent to services on offer in the community. Some learning points for other countries are considered. An equivalent strategy for the modernisation of public sector prisons in Wales is being developed by the Welsh Assembly Government.
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