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EDITIONS
Britain's world first in prison medicine
The Prison Service funds the prison medicine diploma
Nine British doctors will be the first in the world to qualify as specialists in prison medicine on Tuesday.

Home Office minister George Howarth is to present the nine with their postgraduate diplomas in prison medicine at a ceremony at the Royal College of General Practitioners in London.

The two-year course is funded by the Prison Service which nominates the doctors taking part from the pool of 120 prison doctors.

The course is run by the University of Nottingham's Postgraduate Dean's Department and the syllabus was set up with the Royal Colleges of General Practitioners, Psychiatrists and Physicians.

Health equalities

Dr Jas Bilkhu, the course director, said it was set up to ensure prisoners had the same health service as people outside jail, to support doctors working in difficult, isolating conditions and to improve professional morale.

"We hope it will encourage the recruitment of high quality people into prison medicine by giving them a postgraduate qualification," he said.

"It may also encourage research."

The areas covered by the course include primary care, HIV, management, public health, health and safety, medico-legal medicine and information technology.

Dr Bilkhu said prison doctors needed to be able to offer general primary care services as well as be specialised in treating the kind of illnesses encountered in a prison setting.

Conditions such as epilepsy and depression as well as substance abuse and HIV were more common in prison than in the general population, he said.

India

The course is run on a modular basis, with doctors spending time at the university over the two-year period while continuing to do their full-time jobs in prison.

It is now in its second year of intake and has received inquiries from around the world, including India, Scandinavia and Canada.

Dr Bilkhu says it may have to be modified to deal with the needs of people from other countries.

The university is currently considering whether to widen it to cover other health professionals working in the Prison Service.

See also:

28 Oct 98 | Health
17 Nov 98 | Health
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