Posted July 29, 2018 17:07:11A number of health facilities in Western Australia have closed because of a shortage of beds, a new study has found.
Key points:A new study finds some hospitals in the state are not able to keep up with the demand for beds and beds are being turned awayIt found that in the past year there has been a significant decline in the number of inmates in jailA spokesperson for Western Australia’s health minister says the state needs to look at how it can improve access to treatment in jailThe WA Department of Health said in its latest annual report that the state had an overall rate of over 500 per cent of its population in jail.
It found in 2017 there were nearly 8,200 people in the State’s jails, up from 7,800 in 2017.
A report commissioned by the state found there were 732,200 inmates in WA prisons.
But the state has a long way to go to meet the demand.
A spokesperson said it was working with other jurisdictions around the world to find ways to improve access and ensure the most effective ways to manage the inmate population are found.
“The current prison system is not able or prepared to meet all the inmate demand, and will only continue to be a significant drain on the health and safety of WA citizens,” the spokesperson said.
“There are some critical gaps in our system that require urgent and urgent attention.”
Dr David Whitehead from the Centre for Research in the Criminology and Criminological Theory at the University of Wollongong said the report suggested that prisons in Western Australian were in need of a “major overhaul”.
“There’s been an explosion in the use of social work and the social services that have been created over the past few years have actually been the most damaging to prison systems and the most harmful to people in prison,” he said.
The report said that although there was a decrease in the numbers of people in jail, there were still too many people in custody.
“In WA, there’s a shortage in the hospital system, which is particularly concerning for the most vulnerable people in prisons,” Dr Whitehead said.
There are a number of reasons why hospitals are not managing the demand, he said, including the fact that they are not equipped to deal with all the demand in a timely manner.
“For example, hospitals in Western Sydney have capacity issues, but they are often not equipped or able to take the volume of patients that are coming in to the hospital at the moment,” he explained.
“So they have capacity and they’re getting a bit overwhelmed.”
There are also concerns about the health of inmates.
In one study published in the Journal of Criminal Justice, the use and quality of prison treatment varied widely, with patients receiving less than good quality care.
“Prison facilities often have poor access to essential health care services,” the report said.
Topics:law-crime-and-justice,health,health-policy,public-sector,government-and%E2%80%99s-parties,wollongo-4870,wa,australiaContact Julie Auld