An inspection report at a Lanarkshire prison has found that staff shortages are having a “detrimental impact” across the establishment.
The inspectorate report undertaken at HMP Shotts showed healthcare delivery, access to employment, staff training, staff and prisoner engagement, and evening activities have been impacted by staff shortages.
It was discovered that there is no GP cover for the prison between 1.30pm and 6pm, resulting in a grading of “poor” for NHS Lanarkshire, who provide healthcare within the establishment.
Inspectors said this was not a reflection on the staff, who the report states make “considerable efforts” to support the inmates’ healthcare needs.
Prior to the inspection, there was concerns long-term prisoners were released back into the community from the prison without any formal opportunity to develop key life skills as part of the preparation for release during their sentence.
But inspectors say the recently introduced practice of photocopying mail has seen a “welcome reduction” in drug related incidents.
HMP Shotts is the first public sector prison in Scotland to install a digital kiosk system for prisoners to order meals and other requests.
The prison was also commended for increasing the offending behaviour programme delivery during Covid-19 and for education and chaplaincy activities to resume.
Around 65 recommendations were made for the prison in total, but the Scottish Prison Service and the NHS have been urged to focus on 13 key recommendations including improving medical cover, pharmacy provision and providing support for those with long term health conditions.
The Scottish Prison Service has also been urged to secure permanent senior management posts as these have been occupied on a temporary promotion basis for over two years.
The service has also been urged to focus on actions to reduce violence, promoting equality and diversity, anti-bullying strategies and improving access to opportunities to progress.