30 November 2016
BMA response to the Justice Select Committee inquiry into Prison Reform
1.10. Communication with prisoners: Language can be a significant barrier to seeking medical attention. Members report instances where other inmates act as an interpreter, a method which can work well, but which impedes the confidentially of a patient s discussion with their doctor. In addition we have concerns that those who do not speak English may struggle to communicate to prison staff when in need of medical support. We believe that tools such as ‘language line’, can enable conversations between non-English speaking prisoners and doctors, but are not universally applicable to scenarios such as CSU (care and separation unit) or prisoners who are immobile. We recommend that government provide guidelines to governors which ensure that prisoners’ health must not be put at risk by rationing or delays in securing translator services for health care.