Aylesbury prison anti-obesity programme praised by HMIP

Healthcare and a wellbeing programme to beat prisoner obesity at HMP Grendon, Aylesbury, have been praised in the latest report by Her Majesty’s Inspector of Prisons (HMIP).

Obesity can increase the risk of developing serious disorders such as high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes: the Health in Justice team at the prison was concerned that the inactivity arising from the COVID-19 restrictions of the past year had led to weight problems for some patients and so devised a programme.

At the unannounced inspection, HMIP praised the prisoner obesity programme. They found the prison’s management team have been working effectively in partnership with Practice Plus Group, which provide healthcare services in the prison, and Public Health England (PHE) in reducing the risk of COVID-19 since the introduction of restrictions in March 2020.

They also reported that the healthcare services are well run. A full range of primary care services is provided, with short waiting lists. Nurse specialists provide ongoing care of patients with lifelong conditions, such as asthma and diabetes, and despite the pandemic, the service has maintained immunisation programmes, such as influenza vaccination, and national screening programmes, such as those for bowel cancer.

Despite the pandemic, mental health and substance misuse practitioners have maintained face-to-face contact with patients since May and have achieved target response times, which the inspectors highlighted as impressive.

The inspectors also found that the weekly multidisciplinary health and therapeutic meetings between wing and healthcare staff have led to a shared understanding of prisoners who might need additional support, such as referral to the mental health team.

Practice Plus Group Services Director Luke Wells said:

“The healthcare team at HMP Grendon have worked extraordinarily hard during the coronavirus pandemic to ensure patients have access to the healthcare they need while staying safe.

“I was delighted to see their dedication and innovation acknowledged by HMIP, as they take their patients through the Government’s bands of COVID-19 inoculations and on to healthy futures through their weight management programme.”