Published: 24/04/2003, Volume II3, No. 5825 Page 21

I read with interest the feature 'Jailhouse doc', (pages 24-26, 10 April) outlining changes in prison healthcare as primary care trusts assume responsibility for this service.

Clearly taking what was a Home Office responsibility and giving it to the NHS presents a considerable addition to PCT responsibilities. In these circumstances, a number of PCTs are considering outsourcing to expert healthcare organisations.

This can offer benefits in terms of management capacity, quality and value for money.

Primecare Forensic Medical, which already works with the prison service, is such an organisation. Primecare Primary Care also provides out-of-hours support to prisons, in a similar way to that described in the article, as well as to over a quarter of GPs in the UK.

Prison healthcare, like prisons themselves, may offer productive public-private partnerships.

Stephen Page Managing Director Healthcare Services