Parc prison, a privately run local prison with 800 inmates, has contracted out its healthcare to Bridgend and District trust since late 1997.

The contract is managed within the trust's forensic directorate, and calls on 21 nurses, two doctors and visiting specialists employed by the trust, together with 13 custody officers employed by Bridgend Custodial Services.

Custody officers come under the day-to-day operational management of the health centre manager, who are also employed by the trust.

Integration of the two staff groups has been difficult but is 'improving all the time', says trust directorate manager Robert Goodwin. He hopes it will eventually be possible to absorb custody officers into

the trust.

Northallerton prison is a directly managed unit for 300 young offenders. Four years ago, the prison governor put the contract for healthcare services out to tender and it was won by Northallerton trust.

'The governor had the vision to see that this was the way things had to go,' says Colin Wilkie, general manager of mental health and corporate services, which manages the prison contract.

'We provide nursing, medical, psychiatry, pharmacy, dentistry and chiropody services.'

The trust has nine nurses who work exclusively for the prison. It also employs three doctors, all of them trained as GPs, to provide a general medical surgery six days a week and a psychiatrist for one session a week. 'Increasingly, prison staff are referring themselves to the nurses for occupational health services,' says Mr Wilkie.