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"The will's there and the skill's there": prison mental health care

Jordan, Melanie



Hugh Middleton


This discussion explores some of the data from a social science PhD whose fieldwork took place in a category B, adult male, local and remand prison in England run by Her Majesty’s Prison Service (HMPS). The debate analyses National Health Service (NHS) staff experiences of mental healthcare provision in a penal context and debates achievements, problems, and implications for future improvement. To summarise using a staff member narrative: “The will’s there and the skill’s there, but …” – staff are well trained and keen to provide outstanding healthcare but there are barriers impeding this aim. Issues that affect the wholly apt provision of healthcare in the prison are narrated as structural and establishment related – and not social or cultural. The nature of penal healthcare is explored; the following themes are raised: primary task, ownership, pride, efficiency, enjoyment, communication, and multi-disciplinary teamwork.

Online Publication Date Feb 8, 2017
Publication Date Feb 17, 2017
Deposit Date Jul 22, 2016
Publicly Available Date Feb 9, 2020
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 105-136
Book Title Mental health uncertainty and inevitability: rejuvenating the relationship between social science and psychiatry
ISBN 9783319439693
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This extract is taken from the author's original manuscript and has not been edited. The definitive, published, version of record is available here:


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