Care chiefs today released the findings of a report on health care given to inmates at HMP Frankland, after allegations were raised by a whistleblower.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has issued a warning notice about good governance after inspecting the prison in Brasside, Durham, in May.
The inspection team identified several failings:
* the service was not learning from incidents and opportunities.
* staff members were not supported through clinical or managerial supervision.
* prisoners were not appropriately risk-assessed when holding their own medication.
* the healthcare team lacked leadership, and had not implemented effective governance systems to protect people against avoidable harm.
The prison is run by G4S Health Services (UK) Limited, and CQC inspectors will revisit it to check whether improvements have been made.
Frankland is a high security prison holding category A, category A high risk and category B prisoners serving sentences of more than 10 years.
It accommodates up to 844 adult male prisoners, including some with health problems including dementia, eating disorders, learning disabilities, and mental health conditions.
Others have physical disabilities, sensory impairments, substance misuse problems, and diseases, disorders or injuries which need treatment.
The inspection was carried out in response to seven anonymous whistleblower allegations between December 2017 and March this year.
The CQC inspectors raised concerns over the level of staffing among the healthcare team, where there were seven vacancies.
Three nurses had been recruited and were going through security vetting checks prior to being appointed.
Regular agency nurses and bank staff were used to fill vacancies, and whistleblowers alleged that some were not clinically skilled to perform nursing tasks, which put patients at risk.
The report found that while there were arrangements in place to minimise risks to patient safety, not all were effective.
For example, ordering of bandages was done through a central point at a local prison, and inspectors found there could be delays in getting stock due to security checks, and nursing staff did not always report when they had run out or were low.
The report also stated: "We were not assured that all nursing staff with responsibility for the care and treatment of patients with long-term conditions had received specific training and were competent to do so.
"We observed that health care staff did not always record on patient records which team member had carried out specific treatments, such as compression bandaging for leg ulcers, so we could not be confident that these treatments were being delivered by staffing members who had the training or competence to do so."
G4S Health Services North East Prisons Director Sue Clements said: “We deliver quality healthcare in centres and establishments across the UK, and inspectors found that our staff at HMP Frankland treat patients with kindness, respect and compassion.
“We take the concerns raised around recording and monitoring practices very seriously and have taken prompt actions to ensure that we are compliant with those requirements, including bringing in a new head of healthcare with over 20 years’ experience in the field and a strong track record of delivering quality healthcare in prisons.”