New evidence shows that Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board will not know the full impact of the Wrecsam ‘super prison’ on their work until May 2015, this despite an imminent decision on whether to grant full planning for the prison due on 3 November 2014.
This latest piece of evidence follows concerns prisoner healthcare in Wales is already underfunded by the UK Government with the additional costs falling on the Welsh Government and Local Health Boards.
The information released to the Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University under Freedom of Information shows that the health board will not determine the “health requirements”, “cost” or “staffing resource” needed to accommodate the new prison until May 2015, as outlined in the response:
- A Health Needs Assessment is being developed and will not be completed until May 2015. This will be used to develop cost projections for prisoner healthcare at the North Wales Prison.
- This will be used to scope what staffing resources are needed alongside any associated training needs.
- This will be used to inform Healthcare requirements.
This again has led to calls for the real impacts of what will be the second biggest prison in Western Europe to be properly scrutinised by politicians in Wales.
Responding to the new evidence, Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University researcher Robert Jones said:
“While the case to receive full planning permission will once again be put before Wrexham Council Planning Committee on Monday (3 November 2014), what this information shows is that the true cost of the prison still remains unknown to politicians in Wales.
“In particular, until a Health Care Needs Assessment is completed, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board will remain in the dark about what requirements and costs the Wrexham 'super' prison is likely to present them.
“Prisoner healthcare does not come cheap and given the potential for very high medical costs to the local area from the new prison, it is essential to ensure that not a single brick of the prison is laid before we know the full impact of the 'super' prison.”
Responding to new evidence made public today by the Wales Governance Centre which highlights the lack of information about the full health costs of the proposed Wrecsam ‘super prison’, Juliet Lyon, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:
“Government plans for a 2,000-place ‘super prison’ in North Wales are the equivalent of building a very sick small town on Wrecsam’s doorstep. It would be short sighted of councillors to give the green light to this massive jail without the opportunity to consider its full associated costs and impact on devolved local health services in Wales.”
Cllr Arfon Jones, who leads the Plaid Cymru group on Wrecsam Council, said:
“It was only last week that I met with the senior council officer leading on the prison. I specifically asked about the cost of health and he told me that the Ministry of Justice will pick up the bill. The answers from the Health Board do not indicate that. I am at the stage where I frankly don't believe what I'm told when it comes to the prison.'
Carrie Harper, Plaid Cymru’s parliamentary candidate for Wrecsam, said: “More and more evidence is emerging that the prison is being built without any consideration of the impact on local services, particularly health. The Ministry of Justice seems happy for the local NHS to take the strain of catering for an additional 2,100 prisoners without providing any information to either the health board or community about their additional needs.
“Wrexham is in danger of being dumped on from a great height. I’m not opposed to a smaller prison that caters for North Wales but there’s a huge issue with building the second largest prison in Europe without considering the impact on emergency services that are already stretched to breaking point.”