INMATES at Brixton Prison are receiving healthcare help thanks to Airedale Hospital's pioneering telemedicine service.

'Virtual' consultations are being provided for prisoners at the London jail via a video link with the Airedale Telehealth Hub.

Hospital clinicians can talk face-to-face with patients and even carry out examinations using hand-held cameras provided in the prison.

Sharron Pearce – project manager for Care UK, which runs the healthcare centre at Brixton – said: “All prisoners who have telehealth consultations would otherwise be taken out of prison to a local hospital which can mean an increase in both costs and the time taken to deliver medical advice, particularly as many prisons have a remote location.

"Telemedicine consultations reduce the risk of removing people from the prison and restore patients’ dignity as there is no need for escorts with handcuffs.

"Patients have benefited from getting healthcare and specialist advice more quickly, delivered in an appropriate setting, and it also helps relieve pressures on urgent care services. Savings are then ploughed into providing better healthcare in the future.”

Rebecca Malin, deputy director of strategy and business development at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are helping to provide round-the-clock urgent care, supporting offenders to receive care in their own environment when they need it. Prison healthcare staff also often benefit from working with our consultants in this way.

“We hope this will be the start of a long, successful relationship with Care UK, with Brixton being a ‘blueprint’ for providing healthcare in an offender setting.”