Nursing Studies

Health in prison settings in Scotland

The health of people in prison is significantly poorer than that of the general population and with the majority of sentenced people returning to the community, improving the health of this population is important from a wider public health perspective.

Cover of report: Research on health in prison settings in Scotland a colloquium

Executive Summary

Since 2011, prison healthcare services in Scotland are managed by the National Health Service (NHS), whereas it previously was managed by the Scottish Prison Service (SPS). The transfer followed on from recommendations from the Prison Healthcare Advisory Board (PHAB), set up by Scottish Ministers, which was established in 2007. However, five years on the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) assessed the progress of the transfer and concluded that several areas need further improvement. The RCN report prompted an inquiry by the Scottish Parliamentary Health and Sport Committee (SPHSC), which led to the establishment of the Health and Social Care in Prisons Programme Board, with the aim of improving prison healthcare.

On the backdrop of the inquiry, an event was held on 4 June 2018, with key stakeholders in the area of prison health to explore recent and current research in Scotland. The aim of this event was to gain a better understanding of current research activities and to facilitate discussion around future research priorities. The event was attended by academics, representatives from NHS and SPS, third sector organisations, freelance researchers, government officials, and the Public Health Minister.

The report below provides a brief overview of health in prison settings; the policy context in Scotland; a summary of the content of the event, emerging issues, feedback of participants; and next steps in further developing prison health research in Scotland.

This project was funded through the University of Edinburgh College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Knowledge Exchange and Impact Grant.

Some of the project team at event



Project team

Lisa Schölin (PI)

Aisha Holloway

Matthias Schwannauer

Brian McKinstry