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521. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of doctors directly employed by the Irish Prison Service; the prisons they are employed in; the number of prisoners in each of those prisons in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13384/19]

522. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of locum doctors used by the Irish Prison Service; the prisons they are assigned to; the number of prisoners in each of those prisons in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13385/19]

523. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the required doctor-prisoner ratio that the Irish Prison Service must maintain; the number and location of each prison that fails to meet the requirement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13386/19]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 521 to 523, inclusive, together.
I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that all persons in custody are provided with a range of healthcare services based on an equivalence of care to that provided under the General Medical Scheme in the community. Those services are based on a primary care model which includes general practitioner services made available to all persons in custody.
The total number of sessions delivered across the Service on a weekly basis is 95. These sessions are delivered by a mix of directly employed doctors, locum general practitioners and through contracts for service. The Irish Prison Service has confirmed that it currently employs four permanent prison doctors. The prisons they are employed in and the number of prisoners in each prison are set out in the table.

Prison Average Number of Prisoners in Custody 2018*
Mountjoy 679
Dóchas Centre 132
Midlands Prison 823
Cloverhill Prison 402
*Provisional pending publication of Annual Report
The Irish Prison Service also delivers general practitioner sessions through the services of locum doctors who are engaged by way of an existing contract agreement. A panel of 30 suitably qualified general practitioners are available to the Irish Prison Service. This equates to approximately 12 whole-time equivalent locum doctors delivering general practitioner sessions across the prison estate.
The table sets out the prisons locum doctors are employed in and the number of prisoners in each prison.
Prison Average Number of Prisoners in Custody 2018*
Arbour Hill 135
Castlerea Prison 300
Cloverhill Prison 402
Cork Prison 288
Limerick Prison 247 (33 – female, 214 – male)
Loughan House 110
Midlands Prison 823
Mountjoy Prison 679
Portlaoise Prison 227
Shelton Abbey 97
Wheatfield Prison 452
*Provisional pending publication of Annual Report
The Irish Prison Service continues to explore and develop all possible avenues to ensure the recruitment of permanent prison doctors, and procure the services of qualified general practitioners to maintain its delivery of effective general practitioner services.
The Irish Prison Service further advised that it is currently making arrangements for procuring the expertise required to carry out a comprehensive Healthcare Needs Assessment of the prison population, with a view to determining the current and future healthcare requirements of prisoners. The Healthcare Needs Assessment will take into account the health needs of prisoners, the demand for healthcare services, and the level of healthcare currently being provided. This assessment is intended to identify opportunities to enhance the quality of healthcare services and the level of service provided.