Cheshire health authority has read with interest the report of the civil service committee on prison medicine, A Crisis Waiting to Break, and wishes to make some observations that may set the report into a local context.

Her Majesty's Prison Styal, for women and young female offenders, is the only prison within the borders of the area covered by South Cheshire HA.

The health authority is working very closely with prison managers in particular to improve health provision within the prison. Much has been achieved but all recognise that there is still a long way to go to reach the targets set both by the prison service and the health authority. Although this work is not in conflict with the recommendations of the report, we feel that insufficient recognition is given in it to the work that has already taken place.

Styal has the largest motherand-baby unit in the entire UK prison system. Your readers may be encouraged to hear that there are those in South Cheshire who are prepared to work with the convicted to try to tackle their offending behaviour to generate hope for a better future for them as well as the babies who have committed no offence at all.

One of the features of prisons is the number of prisoners who have mental health problems. In Styal, the Reeman unit gives an opportunity for therapy to be delivered to those with mental health problems in an enlightened setting. This facility is now being developed to improve and extend the mental health service delivered at Styal.

Simon H Cussons Chair South Cheshire HA