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Prison Healthcare

Prisoner Healthcare: Your Rights

The Government provides information about the rights of those in prison to healthcare at their website here.

Medical treatment is free and is subject to approval by a prison doctor or member of the healthcare team.

In practice, there is variation in healthcare arrangements within prisons, but prisoners report receiving primary healthcare from the prison healthcare teams, which are often made up of locum GPs and nurses and who may refer prisoners to local NHS Trusts for specialist attention.

Can a prisoner or former prisoner seek damages if they receive substandard treatment?

A prisoner or former prisoner who suffers injury as a result of substandard treatment may be able to Claim damages.

In the 1999 case of Brooks v Home Office, it was held by the Court that a pregnant woman prisoner in a prison hospital who lost her baby following delay in seeking specialist obstetric advice was entitled at law to the same standard of obstetric care as she would have received if she were at liberty.

If you or someone that you know has suffered has as a result of substandard treatment whilst in prison, it is important that specialist advice is obtained as soon as possible.

Allegations must be proven and the burden of proof rests on the person seeking damages. There are often complicated and difficult aspects to all of these necessary investigations.  Claims are also subject to strict deadlines such that a Court may refuse to consider the Claim at all if there is delay in pursuing proceedings.

When a prisoner or former prisoner contacts us to enquire whether he or she can obtain compensation as a result of having received bad healthcare, we need to:

  • Investigate the standard of the treatment provided
  • Identify the harm that has resulted as a consequence of any unacceptable treatment; and
  • Identify who may be legally responsible for providing the substandard treatment

Prisoners and former prisoners are often surprised to learn that they are not normally able to obtain compensation from the prison itself or the Ministry of Justice.  This is because legal responsibility for substandard healthcare usually rests with the attending GP or NHS Trust specialist to whom the prisoner has been referred.

Longden Walker and Renney Solicitors are Law Society Accredited for their Clinical Negligence work, and are members of Action against Medical Accidents. We have an experienced team of Solicitors, with over 30 years of experience in pursuing claims for compensation and support for those who have suffered injuries as a result of Clinical Negligence.

If you, or someone that you know, may have suffered as a result of substandard medical treatment, do not hesitate to contact us by email at or call us on 0191 5666 500. Alternatively, fill in our short enquiry form and one of our team of specialist Clinical Negligence solicitors will be in touch.