Prison healthcare is managed by the Corrections Department. Healthcare services provided outside prisons are the responsibility of the local District Health Board.
Every prison facility has a health care unit
Every prison in New Zealand has a medical centre that provides primary healthcare. Inmates are transferred to public hospitals when serious conditions have to be treated.
Section 75 of the Corrections Act 2004 outlines the right for every prisoner to receive medical treatment that is reasonably necessary. It also states that standard of the health care service provided should be “reasonably equivalent to the standard of health care available to the public”1.
Every person taken into custody by the police must fill out a risk assessment form (Health and Safety Management Plan for Person in Custody). Prisoners who have served more than 30 days and are not to be released from prison within ten days may be required to take a drug test (for illicit drugs or alcohol).
Prevalence of mental health disorders are five times higher in the prison population than in the general population.
All prisons have psychiatric medication available but inmates that have to seek specialist mental health care are referred to the District Health Boards.
The SPT showed concern that not all inmates “received timely and adequate treatment and the provision and availability of health care staff, health premises and equipment varied widely across the facilities visited […] the current capacity of the system to properly address the mental health of persons in detention does not match the actual needs.”