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Report on Prison Conditions in Jamaica


4. Medical Care


As observed in the introduction to this report, it was difficult, given the short nature of the visits, to gain any in-depth insight into the provision of medical treatment at the institutions. In particular, it was not possible to speak to any of the actual medical officers (qualified doctors) at the institutions because, perhaps tellingly, none were present at the time of the visits. Instead I was shown around the facilities and spoke to correctional officers working in the infirmaries about the standard of medical care they were able to provide. In some cases the correctional officers in the infirmary themselves raised issues regarding lack of resources, which meant that they were unable to provide the standard of care they would have liked to the inmates. Te most notable problems raised during the visits were:


• Te most significant issue confronting both centres, according to the staff themselves, was that due to a lack of personnel, inmates were regularly missing


important external appointments with medical specialists at hospitals and other facilities. An escort of three correctional officers was required in order to take each inmate off the institution grounds, and it was simply not possible to provide this level of supervision on many occasions. Appointments could take months to rearrange, or in some cases were simply cancelled, despite the fact that the need to see a specialist doctor outside the institution meant that it was often the inmates with the most serious health problems who suffered.


• Te Correctional Institution Rules lay out a series of detailed obligations as regards the work of medical officers in the prisons, including the requirement


that ‘Te medical officer shall attend the adult correctional centre once each day, and in cases of sickness or accident, at such other times as the Superintendent may require’.25 Staff stated that there was daily attendance by a doctor at SCACC, although it should be noted that there was no medical officer present during the visit. Staff at TSACC said that a doctor normally attends five days a week, but that at the time I visited that had been reduced to three due to a lack of resources, and each visit was for only two hours. However, attendance timetables for medical staff on the walls of the medical centres at both institutions indicated that attendance by doctors was perhaps less frequent than was being let on, and the responses given to questions by the staff in the infirmaries at both prisons contrasted somewhat with the regular complaints by prisoners that they were not receiving appropriate treatment for their conditions.


25


Rule 25. 36


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