Current and emerging practice of end-of-life care in British prisons: findings from an online survey of prison nurses

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There are concerns about prisoners and detainees not having equal access to end-of-life care while in prison. There is a lack of existing literature about the standards of end-of-life care in UK prisons.


The aim of this study was to investigate the views of current and former prison nurses with regard to the end-of-life care being provided in UK prisons.


Prison nurses were invited to participate in an online survey and asked about their role in the prison, prisoners’ access to healthcare facilities, and any barriers and good practices to end-of-life care. The survey included open-ended and closed questions. The closed questions were analysed using descriptive statistics. The open-ended responses were coded and grouped into themes.


31 (N=31) prison nurses responded to the survey. The reported barriers to end-of-life care included some prison regimes, lack of appropriate care and visiting facilities, lack of privacy and inadequate visiting hours. Respondents also reported examples of good practice, including having access to specialist palliative care and specialist equipment, and being able to receive visits from family and friends.


The findings suggest that there is considerable variability in the end-of-life care provided to prisoners in the UK. Further research is needed in order to reduce the health inequalities and improve the quality of end-of-life care experienced by prisoners in the UK.

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