Hopes for raised clinical standards and improved patient safety in police custody healthcare have been dashed after the Home Office’s abrupt cancellation of transfer of commissioning to NHS England, according to the Faculty of Forensic & Legal Medicine (FFLM).
‘We argued for a delay in transferring both funding and commissioning to the NHS to address clinical standards and other issues but the decision to cancel is irrational,’ FFLM President Jason Payne-James declared. ‘It also means that opportunities have been lost for more effective diversion and liaison for the large number of police detainees with substance misuse, physical and/or mental health problems as well as for more effective clinical governance.’
Payne-James notes that inadequate levels of funding have already resulted in severe degradation of the healthcare services in police custody. ‘The Home Office decision makes commissioning and funding the responsibility of Police and Crime Commissioners, who have no experience of healthcare provision,’ he said. ‘Further deterioration in standards and safety is inevitable.’
The FFLM believes that the impact of this decision will contribute to the already increasing numbers of deaths in police custody. The FFLM is contributing to the review of deaths in police custody being undertaken by Dame Elish Angiolini, and will stress that the issue of standards and funding for custodial healthcare should be a central issue in her report.