National first for HMP Doncaster
8 July 2021
HMP Doncaster has become the first large remand prison in England, with healthcare run by Practice Plus Group, to have eliminated a potentially fatal virus from its population.
Working together with the Hepatitis C Trust and Gilead Science, Practice Plus Group’s healthcare team has carried out a week-long High Intensity Test and Treat (HITT) programme at the prison.
Of the 1,100 men in the prison 1,083 agreed to go through the process, one of the highest rates of take-up recorded in the programme devised by the partnership to eliminate hepatitis C (HCV) by 2025 in the 47 prisons currently served by Practice Plus Group medical teams.
The effort has seen the prison meet the stringent criteria, set by NHS England, in order for an environment to be acknowledged as reaching a micro-elimination status.
Regional blood-borne delivery nurse manager for Yorkshire Nichola Royal said: “This was an exceptional achievement and one that will be recognised by NHSE granting micro-elimination status to the prison.
“The prison director, prison officers and medical staff, together with the health champions and the Hepatitis C Trust peer volunteers did an incredible job of explaining the benefits of taking part and the dangers of leaving the condition untreated, which can include irreversible liver damage.”
The UK has approximately 84,000 prisoners. HCV affects as many as one in 20 in male prisons according to Public Health England data, and an even higher proportion in female prisons. While also eliminating the virus, this programme seeks to set best practice and pathways for the benefit of prisoners everywhere.
Nichola said: “Prisons offer a unique opportunity for people to engage. The environment is relatively stable and residents have access to healthcare screening, treatment, support and harm prevention education, including information on how it is transmitted. This significant window is enhanced by the access and support provided by the invaluable Hepatitis C Trust peers who operate within the prisons.
“By testing, educating and treating we not only help patients, but we also help to protect those communities that our patients return to at the end of their sentences from what is a harmful virus.”