If David Cameron is serious about his promise yesterday in Manchester to end discrimination and “finish the fight for real equality” he should examine the way that CCGs are funding healthcare in probation.
People on probation are a deprived and vulnerable group. National guidance in England exhorts Clinical Commissioning Groups to commission healthcare for those living in the community who are serving community orders. This includes ‘approved premises’ – accommodation providing enhanced supervision for offenders and individuals on bail who may present a high risk of harm to the public.
In an article published recently in Health and Social Care in the Community, researchers, including a member of the Community and Health Research Unit at the University of Lincoln present findings from a national survey of CCGs in England. This survey, sent as a freedom of information request to all CCGs and Mental Health Trusts in England, compared the extent to which healthcare services were commissioned for probationers in 2014 with similar data collected in 2013.
Findings show that the proportion of CCGs commissioning healthcare for probation reduced from 7% to 1%, and 20% of CCGs stated that funding healthcare for this group was the responsibility of the NHS England Area Teams. It is not the Area Team’s responsibility it is the responsibility of CCGs.
There was also a reduction in the proportion of Mental Health Trusts funding healthcare for probation between the 2013 and 2014 surveys – from 70% to 61%. The prevalence of mental health disorders in probation is high, so it was of concern that only 12% of Mental Health Trusts provided a service to support approved premises and just 32% provided clinics in probation.
The present Government’s policy, in April 2015, to privatise probation for low risk offenders in the community adds yet more complexity to this highly concerning scenario.
Professor Charlie Brooker and Dr Coral Sirdifield