Press release: Doctors, nurses and paramedics working in police custody call for standards to protect patients and avoid miscarriages of justice

Concerns about deaths in police custody and other harms to vulnerable patients have spurred the Faculty of Forensic Medicine (FFLM) at the Royal College of Physicians of London, the UK Association of Forensic Nurses (UKAFN) and the College of Paramedics to jointly demand that healthcare professionals working in police custody possess appropriate qualifications.

The three bodies stated:

“Standards in clinical forensic medicine are essential for high quality patient care. The UK Association of Forensic Nurses (UKAFN), College of Paramedics and Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine (FFLM) have agreed that the minimum competency standard for all healthcare professionals (nurses, paramedics and doctors) working in the fields of general forensic medicine or sexual offence medicine should be either the UKAFN Advanced Standards in Education and Training (ASET) or the Licentiate of the Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine (LFFLM).”

From April 2016 the responsibility of commissioning and funding custodial health care will move from individual police forces to the National Health Service.  The FFLM, UKAFN and the College of Paramedics have raised urgent concerns with NHS England that its failure to define appropriate standards will accelerate what is already a severe degradation of police custody health care.

In July the Home Secretary announced a review into deaths in police custody, and last week appointed Dame Elish Angiolini to lead it.  The FFLM has asked Dame Elish to examine the issue of standards of healthcare provision, so that the relationship between the quality of care and the qualifications of those delivering it are subjected to closer examination.

Dr Jason Payne-James, President of the FFLM says “The Faculty will continue to work with its clinical partners to ensure that the highest standards of care are given to our vulnerable patients in police custody.”