Healthcare in detention 

When you are in detention, you are entitled to access healthcare provision that adequately meets your needs and which should be the same as you would get in the community. In each detention centre the healthcare providers are different, depending on who has the contract in that facility. 

NHS England has the responsibility to appoint these healthcare providers, except in Dungavel, where the provider is chosen by the Home Office. 

Some healthcare basics: 

  • On arrival in detention you should be seen by a GP for a physical and mental examination within 24 hours. If you refuse this examination you have the right to request it at a later date.

  • You have the right to see an independent doctor but you may have to cover the costs of this yourself. 

  • Female detainees have the right to request to see a female doctor. 

  • All detention facilities should have a healthcare team available including nursing staff. 

  • All medical records are confidential and must be treated as such. The GP in the centre will access your previous medical records if available in the UK, and must forward these if you are released from detention or transferred to another centre. 

  • If you are on specific medication when you arrive, this may be taken from you. If this happens it will be administered to you by medical staff. 

  • If you want to make a complaint about your healthcare treatment in detention, talk to the doctor about it first. You can also talk to the centre's healthcare manager or write to the Home Office. You can also talk to the Independent Monitoring Board in your centre, or write to them. If you have a volunteer visitor or a solicitor you may want to discuss it with them also. 

  • There are certain people who should only be detained in exceptional circumstances or who may find that their mental health is worsening in detention. You will find more information under 'specialist support'

Medical Justice 

Medical Justice is a charity that promotes the healthcare rights of people in detention. They have a small staff team and work with volunteer doctors. They can provide independent medical advice to people held in detention, which can include clinical assessment, review of existing treatment, writing medical reports, etc. Their website also has a lot of useful information on your rights to healthcare in detention. 

If you are a volunteer visitor you can make a referral to MJ using their online referral form

Medical Justice website 

'Know your Medical Rights' leaflet: