Marking 10 years of the Tayside Custody Healthcare & Forensic Medical Service

11-04-19 Marking 10 years of the Tayside Custody Healthcare & Forensic Medical Service
(back) l-r Police Scotland, Tayside Police Division sergeant Graeme Elrick and forensic physician Dr Alfarah Kunwar (front) l-r senior charge nurse Sandie Thomas and head of service Angela Cunningham

Staff at the Custody Healthcare & Forensic Medical Service in Tayside have marked 10 years of delivering services to the public.

The service, which is hosted by Angus Health and Social Care Partnership, opened in 2009 when new arrangements for providing healthcare for people in custody were put in place. This new approach allowed people in custody to have access to healthcare 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week.

NHS Tayside, in partnership with Police Scotland, Tayside Police Division and the University of Dundee, initially piloted the new way of working which was later rolled out to all NHS Boards across Scotland in 2014.

The nurse-led service provides healthcare for people in police custody in two police custody suites in Dundee and Perth. The nurses are also trained to deliver forensic services and to support clinicians with forensic examinations for children and adults when required.

The nursing staff undertake a wide range of duties, such as crisis intervention, addiction management and support, chronic disease management and minor injury treatment.

In the past year, there have been a number of new initiatives put in place in the service, including:

  • People in custody being offered dry blood spot testing for Blood Borne Viruses (BBV). BBV services then follow-up with patients who test positive.
  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy now routinely given to people in police custody in Dundee, following assessment by the forensic and custody nurse. This will shortly be implemented in other areas across Tayside.
  • An extended service offered by Tayside Sexual Assault Referral Network (SARN) to support people who have been raped or sexually assaulted. The dedicated phone line – 0300 365 2001 – allows people to directly contact a Rape Crisis Helpline worker who will offer initial support and contact to the forensic and custody nurses in Tayside.

Head of Out-of-Hours, Prison Healthcare and Forensic and Custody Healthcare Services Jillian Galloway said, “We are pleased to mark our 10-year milestone. The dedication and commitment of all of our staff has helped us to develop the service and improve the care provided to our patients.

“We work in close partnership with other services within NHS Tayside, the local health and social care partnerships, Police Scotland and third sector agencies to develop our services and we will continue to work hard to ensure patients receive the care they need.”

Marc Lorente, Police Scotland, Tayside Police Division Custody Inspector for Tayside, said, “The nurses covering the custody areas are excellent at what they do and work well with custody staff, ensuring that those who unfortunately find themselves in custody, often with complex needs, are looked after as best we can.

“Working together we have also been one of the first areas in Scotland to implement nicotine patches and tests for Blood Borne Viruses to prevent the spread of infection and signpost those to receive the correct support.”

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