The following is a letter to insidetime, from issue April 2010

Legal duty of care to diabetics

From Steve Browne - HMP Albany

In October 2009, I had a letter from the Prison Reform Trust saying they were writing to the Equality and Human Rights Commission regards ‘sweeteners’ for inmates with diabetes. I have recently received another letter from the PRT with a copy of the reply they received from the EHRC which says that … ‘a person with diabetes (whether controlled by diet or medication) is likely to fall within the definition of ‘disability’ (Section 1 DDA 1995). This means that the Prison Service, as a ‘service provider’, has a legal duty of care, in this case to prisoners with disabilities, including people with diabetes. Providing diabetics with sweeteners appears to come within ‘providing auxiliary aids and services’.

It seems to me there are no standardised guidelines on the treatment of diabetes in prison and that the majority of those representing NHS healthcare within the prison system don’t even care; yet the reality is that prisoners should expect the same treatment inside as they would receive on the outside. The catering department based at Parkhurst, which covers all three prisons on the Isle of Wight, stopped giving diabetics weetabix and branflakes about four months ago; now we get the same cereals as everyone else, including chocolate rice crispies and sugar coated cornflakes; even sugar sachets and tea whiteners. So you either buy your own or suffer high blood glucose readings, which mean increased insulin doses.

There were some alarming facts published in this month’s ’Balance’ magazine:

• There are 2.6 million people already diagnosed with diabetes in the UK alone and by 2025, Diabetes UK predict there will be more than four million people with the condition;
• It is estimated that there are some 500,000 people in the UK alone that have diabetes but have not yet been diagnosed or don’t even know they have the condition:
• Diabetes UK says that the most deprived people (I would put some people within the prison estate in this group) along with people on low income on some of our poorer housing estates, suffer diabetes;
• People with Type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to suffer a stroke within their first five years of diagnosis, compared to the population in general.

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Comments about this letter

13/7/2010 Gordon Smith - -

Albany is one of the most discriminatory prisons with in the prison estate, especially against the disabled and elderly. Plus they have the normal phobias Race Religion and Sexuality. But while I was there I forced upon the local NHS PCT to carry out a year long survey with the intentions of introducing a policy throughout the prison estate for the care and needs of the elderly and disabled, dependant on funding! I know this is just a time wasting effort as the NHS PCT's must comply with legislation along with the prison service. This also lead to the NHS PCT on the island admitting that they had done nothing for prisoners at all and Nationally that the NHS was not doing enough for the over 50's. Having been in lots of prisons I do know that the policy on diabetes various from prison to prison and I have only met one dedicated member of healthcare staff trying against all odds to change the system so that diabetics receive the same treatment as people on the outside. The NHS PCT's have no understanding of prisoners needs, as even they do not prescribe sweeteners, glucose tablets for their patients as we can buy our own. There should be someone who should look into the needs of prisoners who cannot afford these items on a very limited budgets from the NHS and a co-ordinated policy produced. This is a failure under the goods and services aids as covered by the DDA Prison Service Policy also states that disabled must be provided with these even if it means giving preferential treatment.I would suggest that Mr Browne writes to his Local NHS PCT and failing any response take legal action against the NHS and the Prison Service for failure to make reasonable adjustment and failure to provide goods services and aids.

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Summary of letters in the Mailbag for April 2010
Publicity stunt
Current page: Legal duty of care to diabetics
Category eligibility
Sexual activity a reality
Provision of materials for legal action
Cut out the hard luck stories
Playing havoc with incompetence
Eliminating discrimination
Prisoners’ pay
Visiting order validity period
What do we want from our prisons?
Banned DVDs
Don’t make me laugh
Putting the record straight
Common sense approach refused
DHL monopoly
Meaningless ‘apology’
Fear of wilful headlines
Horse sense
Legal highs – a drugs revolution
The curse of old age
Recall: more transparency needed
Serious ramifications
Dangerous dabblers
If wishes were horses
Haven Distribution
A nice little earner?


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