Prison nurse

Nurses working in prisons provide similar services to those who work in a GP practice, as well as integrated mental health and substance misuse services.

You will work in a unique and diverse environment, often delivering the many of the nurse-led services that are provided in the wider community. Prison nurses provide holistic care across the whole patient journey.

Male nurse on phone

This page has information on being a prison nurse and links to further information.

Working life 

Working in a challenging, multi-faceted environment like a prison, you’ll deliver holistic and compassionate care to a complex community with varying needs. The role offers versatility as you’ll pick up additional skills to develop your knowledge and skills base.

The types of work you may do could include:

Within prisons, there is a higher prevalence of mental health and substance misuse disorders. This may mean offering support to patients who are at greater risk to themselves or others than those seen in GP practices.

Where will I work?

As a prison nurse, you could work directly for the NHS or be employed by a private healthcare provider delivering services on behalf of the NHS. Prisons are divided in to various categories, including: 

Some prisons have history and are housed in old listed buildings, stately homes and former armed forces bases, while some are new and modern. Within these secure settings you could work on a residential unit, attend emergency responses or work in a dedicated healthcare unit.

Your patients may have diverse cultural backgrounds and you will work with vulnerable people with complex health needs.

You’ll work alongside a multi-disciplinary team of other professionals including GPs, pharmacy teams, support workers, dentists, podiatrists, physiotherapists, paramedics, psychological professionals, psychiatrists and prison staff.

Entry requirements 

To work as a nurse in a prison you’ll need to be a qualified, registered nurse and hold a current registration with the NMC. Training will be provided to help you adapt to this unique environment. There is no specific qualification required to enable a nurse to work in a prison. Informal visits are encouraged, so contact the relevant healthcare provider for the prison site for further details.

Anyone applying to work within a prison will go through an enhanced prison vetting process. 

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