17 Feb 2020

Corrections admits it failed to provide adequate medical care for prisoner

9:53 pm on 17 February 2020

The Health and Disability Commission has slammed the Department of Corrections for failing to provide a female prisoner with adequate medical care.

Prison jail cells bars incarceration generic

Photo: Unsplash / Matthew Ansley

In late 2016, a woman with diabetes and suffering from painful respiratory conditions was remanded in prison, but the facility failed to give her pain relief or prioritise consultation with a doctor, resulting in her being admitted to hospital.

Health and Disability deputy commissioner Kevin Allan found Corrections failed to provide the woman with a reasonable standard of care, that there were multiple failures in administering safe medication and that there was very poor documentation of the incident.

"A person being held in custody does not have the same choices or ability to access health services as a person living in the community," Allan said.

"People in custody do not have direct access to over-the-counter medications or to a GP, and are entirely reliant on prison staff to assess, evaluate, monitor, and treat them appropriately."

He added that it was not the first time Corrections had failed to follow best practice.

Allan recommended an independent external review of the clinical services at the facility.

Corrections deputy chief executive Juanita Ryan said she accepted Allan's findings.

"I would like to take this opportunity to apologise again for the failings in the care provided to her and for any distress caused to her. We have made a significant number of changes to ensure this does not happen again to anyone while under our management in prison," she said.

Ryan said that Corrections accepted and completed all of the recommendations made by the commissioner.