Medical rooms at Barlinnie Prison ‘not fit for purpose’

An inspection found nurses were cleaning the treatment room themselves amid the pandemic.

Some medical rooms at Scotland’s largest prison are “not fit for purpose” due to cleanliness concerns, inspectors have said.

An inspection found nurses took to cleaning the treatment room at Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow themselves amid the coronavirus pandemic.

HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland (HMIPS) called for the prison and health authorities to take action to “provide a healthcare area that is fit for purpose and can be effectively cleaned to ensure the safe delivery of healthcare”.

The watchdog also said enhanced cleaning measures must be put in place immediately to mitigate the existing risks during the pandemic.

During the inspection on July 15 and 16 inspectors found “no significant improvements” to the state of the centre from a previous visit.

The inspection report states: “Rooms are allocated in each hall for nursing staff to provide medications, triage and consultation with patients.

“These rooms remain in a very poor state of repair causing considerable risk in the ability to effectively clean them and are no longer fit-for-purpose.”

A contractor cleans the health centre once a day but staff told inspectors they do not believe it is adequate and “no significant additional cleaning” was put in place in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We were told that nursing staff are regularly cleaning the treatment room in order for it to be suitable for use following cleaning by the private contractor,” the report states.

“Staff indicated they had requested extra response from the contractor to clean door handles.

“However, staff still express concern about the consistency and quality of cleaning.

“This is a concern given the need to safeguard patients and staff during the pandemic.”

Following the visit inspectors were told “additional cleaning resource is being addressed as a matter of priority”.

At the time of the inspection there were 1141 inmates, down from 1489 prisoners in the previous visit which was 45.8% above the design capacity.

Concerns were raised about cells being shared.

The report said: “Cell sharing is once again more common and HMIPS remains concerned.

“Many of the cells were not designed to hold two people and we urge the Scottish Government to prevent HMP Barlinnie returning to the same overcrowding levels.”

It continued: “While it was pleasing to see the significant reduction in the prison population there were still a number of prisoners having to share cells, which is not helpful when trying to manage Covid risks.

“HMIPS would have concerns if the anticipated increase in court activity leads to a return to overcrowding and cells only designed for single occupancy having to be used as doubles.”

In general, the prison came across as “clean, safe, and orderly, and the prison management team are to be congratulated on the way they rose to address the additional challenges created by Covid-19”, inspectors said.

They said in providing regular access to showers, fresh air and phones for self-isolating prisoners, Barlinnie was “ahead of other prisons in protecting their human rights”.

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