Staffing shortages hit healthcare at Scotland's open prison

Inspectors give a mixed report after visiting Castle Huntly's facilities.

Castle Huntly: Chief prison inspector David Strang said there was room to improve. <strong>Left: HMPIS Right: CC/ Maigheach-gheal</strong>
Castle Huntly: Chief prison inspector David Strang said there was room to improve. Left: HMPIS Right: CC/ Maigheach-gheal

Healthcare in Scotland’s only open prison suffered due to “significant” staffing shortages, an inspection report has found.

Prisoners at Castle Huntly were not given “continuity of care” because health workers were moved between different prisons to cover shifts.

A report by the HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland said the site health centre did not offer the range of services and health promotion which was expected.

Concerns were also raised about how controlled drugs were issued, as in some cases only one signatory was present when there should have been two.


Inspectors who visited the site near Dundee reported that poor facilities in residential areas were in “marked contrast” to the quality of more modern prisons.

The review noted that many of the 204 prisoners were in work placements which gave them “good opportunities to develop their skills” in the community.

More needs to be done to make sure each prisoner is given the relevant support depending on the stage they were at their sentences, according to inspectors.

The report said: “Support to prisoners to address matters of finance, housing and additional related criminogenic needs had room to improve.”


Seven out of the ten standards used to inspect and monitor Scottish prisons were rated as “satisfactory”, with the remaining three ruled as “generally acceptable”.

David Strang, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons said: “I consider that HMP Open Estate plays a valuable role in the preparation of prisoners for their return to the community.

“It is essential that there is a clear understanding of the strategic role that the Open Estate plays in the wider direction of the Scottish Prison Service.

“This would assist both those who work at HMP Open Estate and those at closed prisons who are responsible for preparing prisoners for their onward journey.”

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