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Prison nurse

Lady talking on the phone

Is prison nursing the right career for me?

To become a prison nurse you will need to be a registered nurse, preferably in adultlearning disabilities or mental health.

Prison nurses need a good knowledge of the criminal justice system and how it relates to their role. Prison nurses are surrounded by support staff with officers ready to step in when necessary but there is a risk of violence and verbal abuse so conflict management skills will be important to have.

Prison nurses need to be:

  • Adaptable and resourceful
  • Good communicators, listeners and able to offer advice
  • Have good judgment
  • Problem solvers

What does a prison nurse do?

The tasks a prison nurse performs can vary according to the type of prison and level of healthcare services provided; however, they will generally include:

  • Health screening
  • Managing and support prisoners with substance misuse issues and those requiring detox
  • Nurse led clinics for chronic diseases
  • Immunisation clinics
  • Wound management, both complex and simple
  • Post operative care
  • Palliative/end of care
  • Management and referral of prisoners with mental health issues
  • Supporting prisoners during difficult times; for instance, during family illness or bereavement
  • Supporting prisoners with learning and physical disabilities

Where do prison nurses work?

Prison nurses usually work from the prison healthcare department and are employed by the NHS or by organisation delivering services on behalf of the NHS. Occasionally they are directly employed by the Prison Service.

Prison nurses work in all types of prisons, including: high secure units, open prisons, women’s prisons or young offenders’ institutes.

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