Headshot of Alice

A day in the life of a prison nurse

Why choose a career in prison nursing: Insights from Alice, Deputy Head of Healthcare at HMP Long Lartin.

Alice, Deputy Head of Healthcare at HMP Long Lartin, talks to us about her experience working at Practice Plus Group and her passion for the work our nurses carry out in prisons and immigration removal centres.

We asked her to share her experience in her own words.

Alice at work

Choosing to be a prison nurse

After University, I spent two years as a Community Emergency Response Nurse. Working with the Community Emergency Response Team at Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust, I conducted holistic assessments and provided urgent nursing care for patients in their own homes.

While I found great satisfaction and variety in community nursing, I was ready for a new challenge. I have always had an interest in prison healthcare, knowing I wanted to make a difference for this really vulnerable group of patients. I applied for a role with Practice Plus Group at HMP Hewell and in five and a half years have progressed from a primary care nurse to the Deputy Head of Healthcare.

This is why I am so passionate about raising awareness of what it’s like to work in prison healthcare, and to let other nurses know about the opportunities they will get to progress their career and develop their skills in this environment.

Development and career progression

Practice Plus Group offered me amazing development opportunities, where I got to improve on both my clinical and managerial skills. I never had that in a community setting. As a Primary Care Nurse I was given training development opportunities to help me progress to a role as Primary Care Team Leader, then Clinical Lead, and now Deputy Head of Healthcare. During this time, the company have also supported me to complete a non-medical prescribing course, and some accredited university courses in minor injuries and minor illnesses. I was also able to squeeze in my maternity leave!

Many nursing professionals are unaware that they can gain just as much exposure to variety and development in a private healthcare setting, especially when it comes to prison healthcare. Newly qualified nurses, for instance, can build a strong portfolio at Practice Plus Group, especially if they strive to acquire new skills and want to grow professionally. And what is more rewarding than knowing you are truly making a

difference to patients in a moment when they need to feel secure, looked after and safeguarded?

Make a difference to every life

A nurse in prison creates a safe space for patients who feel they can open up and be vulnerable.

We have recently launched a new campaign in HMP Long Lartin, called ‘Proud to Practice’, to share the reasons why we are proud, every day, of what we achieve, both professionally and for our patients.

Some might feel that working in a prison is a bit daunting, and yes, it can be, especially when you walk into the building for the first time. But we offer a thorough induction that helps our new staff to adapt well to this environment. There is a week-long off-site induction, bespoke training, that also includes some insights on the type of patients they might be looking after and what they can expect.

A typical day for a nurse in prison healthcare

The role is really varied, but if we wanted to describe a typical day, this is what it might look like.

In the morning, you might carry out medication rounds, assessing patients in withdrawal or under the influence of substances, and discharging patients to the community or other prisons. At any other point in the day, you would likely work with the mental health team, handle medical emergencies, or run nursing clinics, for example, managing patients with long term conditions, wounds or musculoskeletal complaints.

There are also opportunities to work nights if this works better for your schedule.

A lot of the work we do is ensuring that our patients are receiving great levels of care from the moment they enter the prison. Our Early Days in Custody Teams ensure that patients are given a holistic healthcare assessment the day they arrive, including need for any care plans, medications, mental health and substance misuse support.

Reception becomes a safe space for our patients, and there is a holistic view of care here. People are sometimes surprised to learn that prison healthcare works like a community hospital, with various specialisms coming together to provide the highest standards of care to our patients.

Working in a prison setting offers a truly rewarding career. If you are a compassionate individual who wants to make a difference in the life of the most vulnerable, then consider having a chat with our site leads. You will not regret it.

Current vacancies

Job title Location Contract type Schedule type Closing date
MSK Physiotherapist West Midlands HMP Featherstone Prison Healthcare Permanent 30 Jun 2024
MSK Physiotherapist HMP The Mount Prison Healthcare Permanent 30 Jun 2024
Podiatrist HMP Leicester Prison Healthcare Permanent 30 Jun 2024
MSK Physiotherapist Suffolk HMP YOI Warren Hill Prison Healthcare Permanent 30 Jun 2024
MSK Physiotherapist Suffolk HMP Highpoint Prison Healthcare Permanent 30 Jun 2024
Podiatrist – HMP Pentonville & HMP Wormwood Scrubs HMP Pentonville Prison Healthcare Permanent 30 Jun 2024
Bank Podiatrist – HMP Werrington West Midlands HMYOI Werrington Prison Healthcare Casual/Bank 30 Jun 2024
Physiotherapist – HMP Long Lartin West Midlands HMP Long Lartin Prison Healthcare Permanent 30 Jun 2024
Physiotherapist – HMP Hewell West Midlands HMP Hewell Prison Healthcare Permanent 30 Jun 2024
Podiatrist – HMP Werrington West Midlands HMYOI Werrington Prison Healthcare Permanent 30 Jun 2024
Lead General Practitioner West Midlands HMP Long Lartin Prison Healthcare Permanent 17 Jun 2024
Primary Care Nurse (Bank) HMP Altcourse Prison Healthcare Casual/Bank 17 Jun 2024
Pharmacist Prison Healthcare Permanent 17 Jun 2024
Pharmacy Technician HMP Altcourse Prison Healthcare Permanent 17 Jun 2024
Primary Care Nurse Bucks Prisons HMP Grendon & Spring Hill Prison Healthcare Permanent 17 Jun 2024
Pharmacy Technician HMP Altcourse Prison Healthcare Permanent 17 Jun 2024
Primary Care Nurse HMP Altcourse Prison Healthcare Permanent 17 Jun 2024
Primary Care Nurse Suffolk HMP YOI Warren Hill Prison Healthcare Permanent 15 Jun 2024
Mental Health Support Worker Suffolk HMP Hollesley Bay Prison Healthcare Permanent 15 Jun 2024
Administrator Suffolk HMP Hollesley Bay Prison Healthcare Permanent 15 Jun 2024