The project, funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Research for Patient Benefit Programme aims to produce a toolkit which will help commissioners and staff delivering health services to effectively measure and improve the quality of probationers’ healthcare.
Researchers say better healthcare could help increase the number of people successfully completing community sentences and could potentially reduce the rate of recidivism, while also saving the NHS substantial sums of money by reducing the unnecessary use of urgent and emergency services.
The research, led by the University of Lincoln (Dr Coral Sirdifield, Professor Niro Siriwardena) with colleagues from Royal Holloway, University of London (Professor David Denney, Professor Charlie Brooker), will address three key areas:
- The best way of providing healthcare to achieve good health outcomes for probationers;
- How healthcare is currently delivered to probationers, for example by probation services, through local partnerships, or through clinical commissioning groups; and
- What data are already available that could be used to measure and improve probationers’ health and the quality of their healthcare.
The team of researchers will carry out a literature review of the existing studies, conduct national surveys, examine written policy and procedure documents, and conduct telephone interviews with senior members of probation and health services.
Lead investigator, Dr Coral Sirdifield from the University of Lincoln’s School of Health and Social Care, said: “There are more than 200,000 offenders on probation in the UK, and they are often deprived, vulnerable and have complex health needs such as mental health, drug and alcohol problems compared with the general population.
“Many probationers are not registered with a GP, or only access healthcare during crises. To reduce health inequalities, we first need to understand how healthcare is provided to probationers, and how its quality can be measured and improved.
“This is important because providing better, evidence-based healthcare will improve probationers’ health, increase their chances of completing probation, and could potentially reduce their risk of reoffending. There are potential cost savings to the NHS by reducing the unnecessary use of urgent and emergency services.”
Taking the survey
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There are three complementary versions of the survey:
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The NOMS NRC ethics approval for the study can be viewed here
This article summarises independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) under its Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme (Grant Reference Number PB-PG-0815-20012. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.