COVID-19 PANDEMIC PRESENTS UNPRECEDENTED OPPORTUNITY FOR REVIEWING OUR PRISON SYSTEM
REVIEW OF COVID-19 HEALTH CHALLENGES IN PRISONS BY IRISH DOCTOR PUBLISHED TODAY ON BJGP OPEN (Wednesday 10th June)
(embargo 0100 Wednesday 10th June)
The current pandemic presents an unprecedented opportunity for authorities worldwide to review the purpose of incarceration and improve prison healthcare, according to a leading Irish doctor.
Worldwide, there are an estimated 11 million prisoners incarcerated at any one time and prisons can be challenging environments for meeting their healthcare needs with the inability to operate social distancing or proper hand hygiene, according to Dr Des Crowley, GP Addiction Specialist & Assistant Director of Managing Addiction in Primary Care Programme ICGP.
The pandemic has brought rapid changes to workplaces and our social lives and there are real opportunities for positive change in prisons as well, according to Dr Crowley.
Dr Crowley said “This review is a commentary on how prisons/prisoners may be vulnerable during covid-19 but also how prisons can provide an opportunity to manage infectious epidemics. It also provides public health and policy opportunities to revisit the role and purpose of incarceration and the human rights issues linked to imprisonment.”
He added “ There are opportunities for improved prison healthcare. Prisoners can be screened for infections, and their unmet health needs can be addressed, while mental health and substance use disorders can also be recognised and treated.”
“However while telemedicine and video consultations have become the new normal in general practice, this innovation has not been introduced in prisons.”
In Ireland, there has been no COVID-19 infections amongst prisoners and a handful of staff have been infected.
Dr Crowley’s review “Prison & Opportunities for management of COVID-19” is published today (Wednesday 9th June) in BJGP Open, a prestigious UK-based journal.
Link here to read article https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgpopen20X101106
Dr Des Crowley is available for media interviews.
MEDIA QUERIES: Aileen O’Meara, Communications Consultant, Irish College of General Practitioners.