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Standards for health services in Australian prisons

Criterion 1.6.1 Engaging with other services

Our health service engages with a range of services to plan and facilitate optimal patient care.


A. Our health service demonstrates how it engages with the following (document review, interview):

  • other medical services such as diagnostic services, hospitals and specialist consultant services
  • allied health and dental services which are provided within the prison or via providers external to the health service
  • disability and community services
  • health promotion and public health services and programs
  • the prison’s management company
  • the relevant state/territory departments responsible for primary medical care in prisons.

B. There is evidence our health service refers patients to other health, community or disability services as required (health records review).


Engaging other services (eg. diagnostic services, hospitals, specialists, dentists, allied health, mental health, social, disability and community services) can assist the health service to provide comprehensive care to patients. For health services in prisons, these other services also include the relevant government departments.

The health service needs to have readily accessible written or electronic information about local health, disability and community services and how to engage with them to plan and facilitate patient care. In general in prisons, such services will not be provided onsite.

How the health service engages with external providers may require sensitive consideration as some community based services may be reluctant to facilitate care for incarcerated patients.

Health services may also need to be aware of different referral arrangements for public and private healthcare providers.

Health services will need to engage with prison staff where the facility plays a role in matters such as facilitating travel, providing chaperoned access to offsite services, assisting with access to medication, meeting specific nutritional requirements or following up on medical instructions provided to patients. It may be useful for a health service to schedule regular briefing meetings to discuss the obligations of the health service in providing healthcare to patients, and invite relevant staff from the prison and the relevant government department to attend.

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