Draft substance misuse treatment framework and Standards for mental health services for prisons

Wales news
03 August 2022

The Welsh Government is consulting on a new Substance Misuse Treatment Framework (SMTF), and new standards for mental health services, for the prisons in Wales. These aim to help ensure there is equivalence in place for people in prisons, in terms of access to substance misuse and mental health care, support and treatment.

The new prison standards are framed as part of the well-being objectives set out in the Programme for Government 2021-2026, as well as working towards the goal of developing a healthier Wales, as outlined in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.

Evidence suggests that people in prison are at a greater risk of poor health outcomes, with a higher prevalence of substance misuse, poorer mental health, and a greater prevalence of adverse childhood experiences and trauma.

Those in prison also have a 50% higher mortality rate than the general population and a risk of suicide 3.7 times higher than the general population amongst men in prison.

With a view to improving these outcomes for people in prisons, the Welsh Government has worked with Public Health Wales and the Royal College of Psychiatrists Wales to develop the new SMTF and new standards for mental health in Welsh prisons.

The SMTF develops a substance misuse pathway that addresses both clinical and psychosocial provision in Welsh prisons. It will drive forward an integrated approach between health and justice roles that runs from reception through to release regardless of sentence length. The draft SMTF is designed to inform and assist health, social care and criminal justice planners and providers to design and deliver high quality, sustainable and equitable prevention and treatment services for those at risk of, or experiencing substance misuse issues in prison. It forms part of the suite of harm reduction and Substance Misuse Treatment Framework (SMTF) guidance for those working in Wales.

As set out in the Partnership Agreement for Prison Health – the new standards for mental health services in the prisons will develop consistent mental health, mental well-being and learning disability services across all prisons that are tailored to need. The Universal Standards set out in the consultation document act as a framework by which to assess the quality of prison mental health services via a process of self and peer review. The standards have been adapted from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, College Centre for Quality Improvement (CCQI) Quality Network for Prison Mental Health Services (QNPMHS) standards.

The framework and standards will align with other work being taken forward by Welsh Government and others and are now out for consultation until 14th October 2022. The intention is for 2022 to be an interim year for the implementation of the SMFT and the standards for mental health services. For more information, and to submit a consultation response, please visit the Welsh Government website.


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