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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

OP81. Prison Transfers: A survey from the Royal College of Psychiatrists

Price: £0.00

Published: Dec 2011

Status: current

Number of pages: 58

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Historically, transferring prisoners to hospital for treatment of an acute mental illness has been problematic, with prisoners having to endure lengthy delays. As a result of Lord Bradley’s independent review of people with mental health problems in the criminal justice system, the government is now exploring opportunities for improving this process and the Department of Health is considering the introduction of a new minimum target for the NHS of 14 days to transfer a prisoner with a severe mental illness to an appropriate healthcare setting.


This report aims to gauge whether a national 14-day prison transfer minimum target, as recommended by Lord Bradley, is reasonable. The College was invited to contribute to a Department of Health review and in 2010 carried out an online consultation with members with experience of prison transfers (Section 47 and Section 48 of the Mental Health Act 1983). This consultation drew on the experiences and expertise of psychiatrists in identifying the barriers and possible solutions to timely prison transfers and aimed to:


  1. Gauge whether a national 14-day transfer target is considered reasonable.
  2. Identify key barriers and possible solutions to timely prison transfers.
  3. Provide the Department of Health with personal accounts from psychiatrists about their experiences in transferring prisoners to appropriate healthcare settings.



  • Executive summary
  • Background
  • Method
  • Consultation
  • Introduction
  • Prison transfer pathway (Section 47 and 48 of the Mental Health Act)
  • Consultation – analysis of results
  • Case studies
  • References
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