A teal and white icon representing Vulnerable Populations - Prison Health.







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What is prison health? 

Prisons and places of detention are an important setting to address health inequalities and to improve the health of an underserved population, as well as ensure we meet our obligations under international human rights legislation. People in prison move in and out of prison and the community, so addressing health in prisons has an impact on wider community health outcomes, such as the prevention and control of infectious diseases. In addition, many drivers of criminal behaviour, such as substance use disorders and mental health, are related to health, so action on these health-related conditions can reduce reoffending. By addressing health needs early, there is an opportunity to reduce later costs in health care and community safety.  

A black man in a white vest and wearing a black cap stood outside.         A nurse placing a hand on an elderly hand with a tennis ball.

Programme Scope  

Since 2020, the programme has supported the UKOTs to address the health inequities faced by vulnerable people who end up in the criminal justice system by providing public health technical assistance to ensure “no-one is left behind”. This activity contributes to stronger public health systems in relation to compliance with the International Health Regulations (IHR), reduces the burden of non-communicable diseases and promotes safer and fairer communities in the UKOTs. 

Programme activity is guided by the following principles and values: 

  • People in prison should have equal access to health care, regardless of their legal situation.   

  • Good prison health is good public health.   

  • The health and well-being of people in prison is a “whole-of-government responsibility”.   

  • Improving health for people in prison is part of a rehabilitative approach in prisons 


Workstream Focus  

  • Improve the evidence base on the health needs of people in prison in the UKOTs to inform healthcare service prioritisation, planning, delivery and evaluation 

  • Develop appropriate guidance, standards and interventions in line with international standards in prison health 

  • Build capacity and support professional development for people working in prison health to ensure good practice and workforce planning 


Example Projects  

  • Development of the UKOTs Prison Health Needs Assessment Toolkit (available below under Key Resources)

  • Health needs assessments conducted in prisons in Gibraltar, Anguilla, Sovereign Base Areas, Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands using quantitative and qualitative methods and including the view of people incarcerated in prison 

  • Technical assistance with planning and responding to communicable disease outbreaks in prisons 

  • Establishing the UKOTs Prison Health Network for collaboration and co-ordination of activities across UKOTs for staff working in prisons 

  • Delivering international workforce development opportunities in partnership with WHO and Yale University, including courses on managing NCDs and managing infectious diseases in prison and places of detention.



This network is for people who work in prison health, whether under prison services or as a health professional. The Network aims to share good practice in prison health across the UKOTs and internationally, collaborate and support problem solving for prison health in the UKOTs, enable opportunities for professional development for people working on prison health in the UKOTs and provide a forum for collective engagement with other fora and agencies (e.g. Health Education England, the Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Nursing, academic researchers). 

The Network meets every 3 months, using the MS Teams platform with secretariat and chairing by UKHSA. For more information or to join the UKOTs Prison Health Network please email UKOTs.Programme@ukhsa.gov.uk  


Training Opportunities  


Funding Opportunities 

For research opportunities and collaboration with international partners, please see The Global Health Network community of practice called the Worldwide Prison Health Research and Engagement Network (www.wephren.org).  

WEPHREN has a whole host of information related to prison health that you might find useful, so please do go and visit this community of practice on The Global Health Network. 



Key Resources 

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (UK)

National Health Service (UK)

The following links take you to the primary care service specifications for healthcare in English prisons, giving detail of what is provided and how quality assurance is monitored.

UKOTs Prison Health Needs Assessment Toolkit

The UKOTs PrisonHealth Needs Assessment Toolkit is intended for people and organisations who want to carry out a comprehensive assessment of the health system and health-related needs in a prison system. This is a practical guide divided into nine chapters including a set of tools (interview guides, checklists, and questionnaire) available in the Appendix and Kobo Tookbox .


  1. UKOTs Prison Health Needs Assessment Toolkit
  2. UKOTs Prison Health Needs Assessment Toolkit – Appendix

This document contains the four surveys and questionnaires used in the UKOTs Prison Health Needs Assessment.

  • Prison Health Workers
  • People in Prison (PIP) Short Survey
  • People in Prison (PIP) Interview Questionnaire
  • Corporate and Healthcare Stakeholders Interview Questionnaire             

3. UKOTs Prison Health Needs Assessment Toolkit – Kobo Toolbox

The four surveys and questionnaires found in the UKOTs Prison Health Needs Assessment Toolkit – Appendix can be accessed online in the Kobo Toolbox, which allows you to update the surveys, so they are relevant for your prison setting. Data can then be uploaded and analysed electronically. The Kobo Toolbox can also be used offline whilst working in the prison and uploaded when back online.

To edit and create your own versions of the surveys and questionnaires, you need to create a Kobo Account and then use the following link to access the Toolkit: UK Overseas Territories Prison Health Needs Assessment Toolkit | KoboToolbox.

For more information on Kobo Toolbox, please see: Help | KoboToolbox


For issues related to the UKOTs Prison Health Needs Assessment Toolkit, please contact: UKOTs.Programme@ukhsa.gov.uk

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