The UK Government must fund prisoner health in Wales properly. That's the call coming from Plaid Cymru after it emerged that there are now 'four judicial review matters open that largely related to healthcare services in HMP Berwyn'.
The news of problems facing healthcare services in the Wrexham institution, the largest prison in the UK, has not surprised local Plaid Cymru spokesperson Carrie Harper: "We were concerned before the prison opened eight years ago - http://www.wrecsam.news/2014/09/prison-will-put-local-emergency.html - that health services in north Wales would have to pick up the tab for this new prison.
"The Ministry of Justice wasn't providing enough funding for prisons in Wales back then and BCUHB doesn't appear to have received adequate funding for the additional work being carried out in HMP Berwyn.
"Because criminal justice isn't yet devolved to Wales, we're calling on the Ministry of Justice in Westminster to properly fund the extra cost of this huge prison in Wrexham. It isn't a prison that serves Wales - the vast majority of inmates are from across the border.
"The NHS in north Wales has enough of its own problems without having to subsidise the prison service as well."
She added: "The fact that there are four legal cases outstanding in this one prison suggests that the prisoners there are not getting the correct treatment. As a group, Plaid Cymru is also asking the council to investigate whether it is facing additional costs due to the prison."
Plaid Cymru's North Wales MS Llyr Gruffydd added: "When the Titan prison that is HMP Berwyn was first mooted, many of us argued against the need for such a large prison. One of the key arguments was the significant pressure this would put on local health services.
"There are huge problems facing HMP Berwyn as it is, not least the turnover of staff – which incidentally we also warned about. A recent report into the prison noted, ‘…there continued to be staff shortages, which affected the delivery of some key services in health care, purposeful activity, and resettlement and release’.
"There is a high turnover of staff at the prison and the health service in north Wales does not need extra pressures. HMP Berwyn is a prison that largely serves England, but NHS Wales is footing the health bill. The cost of health service provision to HMP Berwyn should be borne by the Ministry of Justice."