North East Wales

Health cash warning over Wrexham's super prison plan

Artist impression of super-prison Image copyright Ministry of Justice
Image caption No decision has yet been made on the name of the prison

A planned 'super prison' housing more than 2,000 inmates will have a "knock-on" effect on local health services which will need more funding, says a watchdog.

The new £212m jail proposed for Wrexham is due to open in 2017, making it the largest in the UK.

But the community health council said there was already a shortage of GPs.

The Welsh government said there were plans to scrutinise the potential impact of the prison on the NHS.

In June, the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said the new prison would have "significant investment implications" for the health service locally and it was fully involved in planning for the project.

Geoff Ryall-Harvey, chief officer of Betsi Cadwaladr Community Health Council, told BBC Radio Cymru's current affairs programme Manylu the situation was concerning.

"There are problems recruiting GPs in north Wales, and a prison population of over 2,000 people will need two GPs on its own. We don't know where we will get those GPs from - it's a real issue," he said.

"And there will be knock-on effects for hospitals, for emergency departments. It certainly is a worry and I know the health board shared those worries."

'Potential impact'

Robert Jones, research associate at the Wales Governance Centre, agreed and said the impact on the local NHS "could be profound".

"Prisoners have a whole range of complex physical and mental health problems. If it's run privately, the secondary health care cost will have to be picked up by the local health board," he said.

But Hugh Jones, Wrexham council's lead member for community collaboration and partnerships, rebutted the claims.

Councillor Jones said: "It has already been stated before that although this is going to be a large prison, the intention is that the majority of healthcare services will be provided within the prison."

The Welsh government said: "Arrangements are in place for key partners, including the Welsh government, NHS, National Offenders Management Service, the Ministry of Justice and HM Treasury to closely scrutinise the potential impact and costs of the proposed new prison being built in Wrexham on the Welsh NHS."

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