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Prisoners to go to UK for mental health care

Prisoners with mental health illnesses could be sent to England for treatment under a new deal between local Government departments and a healthcare charity in the UK.

Three inmates have been identified as candidates for the programme offered by St Andrew’s Healthcare in Northampton, England.

However, Bermuda Hospitals Board said that “complex legal considerations” still needed to be addressed before the prisoners could be transferred.

“Much collaborative work has been undertaken between BHB, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of National Security, the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Department of Court Services and Department of Corrections in finding a viable solution for the population of inmates who need mental health services,” a spokeswoman for BHB said.

“While work continues to determine the most appropriate long-term solution for Bermuda, an interim solution is needed.

“A competitive process was therefore initiated last year to find an overseas partner to ensure people in Bermuda’s correctional facilities today are not left at risk.

“St Andrew’s has just been selected as the preferred bidder and the contract negotiations are due to start this week.

“This means it is not possible to provide concrete dates such as when people will transfer and how much it will cost at this time, but we will share this information when the contract is agreed and signed.

“Currently, there are three inmates who would be candidates for this service, but in addition to executing the contract, there are complex legal considerations that still need to be addressed before they can be transferred.

“Having a solution in place for this vulnerable population will help improve care, and improve recovery and management of mental illness.”

Meanwhile, Dean Howells, executive director of nursing and quality at St Andrews, has welcomed the agreement.

“This is great news. Not only does this contract brings the charity income from new sources, but much more importantly, it gives our potential services users a much improved opportunity of recovery, thanks to our personalised and holistic approach to care,” he said in a statement posted on the charity’s website.

“The new contract means that we can extend our reach and transform more lives.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health confirmed that St Andrew’s Healthcare had been selected to help Bermuda find an “interim forensic mental health solution”.

“In both the 2015 Throne Speech and the recent 2017-18 Budget debate, Government recognised that inmates with severe mental illnesses are not adequately treated at this time, and Bermuda does not have the level of security required for safe treatment elsewhere on the island,” the spokesperson added.

“A search was conducted to find an overseas partner to provide interim, appropriate service for inmates with psychiatric diagnoses. Following a complete RFP process, St Andrew’s Healthcare was recently identified as the preferred provider.

“This interim solution will allow the Ministry of Health and Seniors, the Ministry of National Security, the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Department of Court Services, Department of Corrections, and Bermuda Hospitals Board the time to focus on the options for a more permanent solution for care of such inmates.

“Government recognises that an appropriate mental health service for inmates who have psychiatric illnesses can give them a pathway to recovery and better success in managing their illness.”