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Mentally ill inmates to be treated overseas

New legislation: health minister Kim Wilson proposed amendment to Mental Health Bill (File photograph)

Bermuda will be able to send prison inmates with mental disorders overseas for treatment under legislation approved last week in Parliament.

Health minister Kim Wilson told MPs the legislation would help persons requiring “special psychiatric treatment in a medium or high-security unit not available in Bermuda”.

The Mental Health Amendment Bill 2018, which had Opposition support, was developed in consultation with the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute, the Department of Corrections and the Ministry of Legal Affairs.

The island is “still looking at various options”, Ms Wilson said, noting that Caribbean islands have similar “challenges” in dealing with mentally ill offenders.

The Bermuda Government signed an agreement for the transfer of inmates to the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust in Britain in 2010.

In March 2017, another agreement was under discussion with St Andrew’s Healthcare in Northampton, England — but “complex legal considerations” had to be dealt with, the Bermuda Hospitals Board said.

Prisoners sent to Britain would be covered under the National Health Service, Ms Wilson said, but the Bermuda Government would foot the bill for jurisdictions where insurance was not included.