Friday, 27 June 2014

Hidden costs of new prison revealed

New research reveals underfund in Welsh NHS budget for prisoner healthcare in Wales

New research raises serious questions about how the new Wrexham super-prison’s health care costs will be funded.

New information obtained from three Welsh university health boards, the Welsh Government and the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), shows that prisoner healthcare services in Wales are underfunded by the UK Government with the costs of the balance falling on the Welsh Government and Local Health Boards.

This underfunding has led to Cardiff University academics calling on Welsh politicians to properly scrutinise the impact of the planned Wrexham ‘super’ prison – a plan which will see the second biggest prison in western Europe due to open in Wales in 2016.

The research reveals that for the year 2012/2013 the UK Government allocated £2.5 million to the Welsh Government for all prisoner healthcare in Wales. This funding was further boosted by the Welsh Government to a grand total of £3.4 million.

The total cost of primary healthcare for the three public prisons in Wales (HMP Cardiff, HMP Swansea and HMP Usk) in the same period was £3.9 million. This figure excludes the cost of secondary healthcare for prisoners in Wales, for which data is not apparently kept, but which can be expected to add significantly to the total final cost. Research suggests that any additional costs above the £3.4million allocated by a combination of the UK and Welsh Government are born by Local Health Boards from their existing budgets.

Plaid Cymru’s Wrexham spokesperson Carrie Harper said: “The NHS is under huge strain in North Wales at the moment with a projected overspend of £35m this year. These new figures show that the planned new Wrexham super prison, the second largest jail in Europe, will place even more strain on our health services and could cost millions to the local NHS.
 “It’s a scandal that the UK Government doesn’t fully fund this non-devolved issue and expects us to pay for the health care of prisoners, most of whom will be shipped into Wales.
“Plaid Cymru has expressed doubts about the size and scale of this prison, which is likely to be privately run. We recognise the need for a smaller prison that serves the North Wales region and would include facilities for youth and female offenders, who are currently dispersed all over the UK.
 “Rather than raise concerns about the naming of the institution, our local MP would be better off campaigning for proper funding from London for the health care this not-so-super prison will require.”

These findings have led to academics at Cardiff University to call on Welsh politicians to carefully scrutinise the plans for the planned Wrexham “super” prison and its likely impact on health budgets in Wales, and in north Wales in particular.

Robert Jones, a research associate at the Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University who is undertaking the research said: “This research shows that even before the Wrexham ‘super’ prison has been built, prisoner healthcare in Wales is already being underfunded. The fact that the Welsh Government does not hold information on the costs of prisoner healthcare in Wales raises some very real questions over the extent to which such services are being effectively scrutinised and accounted for.

“While the Welsh Government has maintained their support for the ‘super’ prison in Wrexham, this data helps to outline the need for the Welsh Government and Assembly Members in the National Assembly to apply rigorous scrutiny to existing prisoner services in Wales as well as the Wrexham ‘super’ prison.”

In addition to Mr Jones’s comments, further calls to consider the wider costs/impact associated with the Wrexham ‘super’ prison have also been made by a leading economist in Wales.

Professor Max Munday, Director of the Wales Economy Research Unit at Cardiff University, said,
“Whilst there may be additional local employment created by both the development and operation of a new prison, it is important to recognise that there is the potential for a series of more subtle socio-economic costs to arise from the presence of such a facility. For example, the presence of a large prison could have effects on house values locally, and could impact efforts to market the wider area to inward investing companies.

“In addition a complete analysis of moves towards a super prison needs to account for welfare effects on inmates and their families, for example, in terms of increased visitor/family travel time, and possibly reduced numbers of visits. Unfortunately some of the more subtle costs of such developments can be hidden where the focus is on simple employment creation.”

ENDS
  
Editor’s Notes

1.      Responsibility for prisoner healthcare within the three public sector prisons was devolved from the Home Office to the Welsh Government in 2003. In April 2006 responsibility was then devolved from the Welsh Government to the Local Health Boards – seehttp://www.wales.nhs.uk/governance-emanual/responsibilities-for-prisoner-healthcare

2.      HMP Parc is a contracted out prison. G4S is responsible for providing the primary healthcare services at HMP Parc. The local health board is responsible for providing secondary care (hospital based) services to the population at HMP Parc including Adult Mental Health In-reach provision.

3.      Full summary of the research findings are here:

For the year 2012/2013

·         The UK government provided the Welsh government a total £2.544 million for prisoner healthcare.

·         The Welsh government provided the three health boards in Wales responsible for prisoner healthcare with £3.4 million to cover all prisoner healthcare services.

·         In the three public sector prisons in Wales, the cost of primary healthcare totaled £3.894 million*

*The costs associated with secondary healthcare services are not disaggregated from the costs of providing community health services within each health board area. Therefore we are unaware of the total cost of all prisoner healthcare in Wales, despite this, the money spent on primary health services alone exceeds the budget received from the UK government.




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