Prisoners expected to put pressure on services

Huge pressure on health services could result from expected increases in prisoner numbers at the Otago Corrections Facility in Milburn, Dr Branko Sijnja says.

He told yesterday's Otago and Southland community and public health advisory committee meet-ing this would include mental health services, general practitioners and other providers of community health services.

"Are we able to respond to quite an increased demand?" The numbers at Milburn may increase by up to 150 as a result of double-bunking, which was introduced last month.

The earlier maximum capacity of the jail was 402.

The committee asked that management provide it with information on the potential impact of an increase in prisoner numbers to its own and other health services.

Member Peter Barron said the board had earlier sought assurances around its forensic mental health services, but an increase in prisoners would affect all services which needed to be provided.

This could include services to prisoners' families.

Dr Sijnja suggested that it could be worthwhile asking the Department of Corrections to meet the committee.

One of the reports to the committee noted that Public Health South had been working with a trust on the development of a mental health programme for Maori inmates.

Mahia Ki A Koe (working for you) was aimed at developing resiliency in participants and strengthening family relationships, and would be completed by May.

An evaluation would be presented to Public Health South and the Department of Corrections.


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