Ministry in charge

Ministry of Justice

Every prison facility has a health care unit


Number of medical staff (FTE)


/ Council of Europe, "Space I – Report 2018", p.75.

As of 1 September 2016, there were 249 health workers.1

  1. Council of Europe,“Space I - Report 2016“, p. 131. 

Health care is free


Prisoners may also consult a doctor of their choice, at their own expense (Article 42 of the PBW).

A medical examination is performed upon admission


The medical examination is carried out by a team formed of authorised psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors and nurses. The team assesses whether any care is needed and whether placement in the institution’s psychiatric care unit or in a specialised penitentiary facility is required.
Screening for tuberculosis is carried out on a routine basis. A chest x-ray is taken for high-risk inmates.1

  1. Eveline Thoonen, “Death in State Custody”, Maklu Uitgevers N.V, 2017, p.182. 

A medical file is opened upon admission


Prior to the first medical examination, prisoners must complete a form in which they detail, for example, any medical treatment that they receive a regular basis.

Prisoners can access health care units after

a written request

Every morning, the nursing staff pre-select the inmates who will be seen by the doctor that day.


Medical examinations are carried out on a confidential basis


Medical confidentiality is guaranteed except in cases “*of legal obligation to share medical data, of conflict of interest, of conflict of obligation or of significant interest”1.

  1. Thoonen, E., “Death in State Custody,” *Maklu Uitgevers N.V., 2017, p. 204. 

Dutch disciplinary case law ensures continuity of care throughout the period of detention.[^care]
Specialised care is also provided. A dentist for example, is present in each facility.

Measures are taken to prevent communicable or epidemic diseases. Vaccination against hepatitis B is available to men who having homosexual relations.

There is no specific data on HIV/AIDS, syphilis, chlamydia, hepatitis B and C or the co-infection of tuberculosis and HIV (TB-HIV). The prevalence of any given disease can therefore not be established.
In 2016, the number of arrivals tested, who were either born or who had been convicted within the last five years in a country particularly affected by tuberculosis1, was 12,222. Thirteen tested positive.

  1. more than 10 cases per 100,000 people 

Testing for HIV, hepatitis B and C, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is available in all facilities. These tests are not mandatory.

Infectious diseases other than tuberculosis are not routinely screened for. Only tests for tuberculosis are regularly carried out.1.

Risk reduction measures include free access to condoms. Needle exchange programs, deemed “unnecessary”, are not offered.

The guards assigned to the dedicated units (EZVs) within prisons receive training in patient care. The CPT observes that “they work in cooperation with psychologists and social workers”. The staff/prisoner ratio here is higher than elsewhere1.

Prisoners with drug addictions, whether on remand or convicted, have access to substitution treatment. Guidelines for the prevention of drug-related deaths are issued to facilities.