A Westminster Hall debate on healthcare in Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre has been scheduled for 1630hrs on Wednesday 6 January 2016. The Member in charge of the debate is Kate Osamor.Jump to full report >>
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Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre is a residential centre which predominantly houses adult women as well as adult family groups who are awaiting immigration clearance or removal from the United Kingdom. Built in 2001 and run by Group 4, in 2007 the management of Yarl’s Wood was taken over by Serco.
Healthcare within Yarl’s Wood was provided by Serco and is now run by G4S Medical Services who were awarded the healthcare contract on 1 September 2014. There are a range of healthcare professionals employed on site including doctors, nurses and a dental team. According to Serco, all residents are seen by a healthcare practitioner upon arrival to the centre to assess their physical and mental health needs. They are also offered an appointment with a GP. Serco say they work closely with the local NHS Trust in order to provide care which cannot be given at Yarl’s Wood.
In March 2015, Channel 4 News carried out an undercover investigation into Yarl’s Wood. This investigation uncovered allegations of mistreatment of residents by the centre’s staff and suggestions of substandard healthcare provision, particularly for pregnant women. In response to the Channel 4 investigation, Serco announced that they had appointed the former barrister and director of the NHS, Kate Lampard, to conduct an independent review into Serco’s work at Yarl’s Wood.
Likewise, a report by the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) was highly critical of the ongoing detention of pregnant women and of women with serious mental health problems. In their 2014 Annual Report, the IMB also reported, ‘serious concerns about the Healthcare provision at Yarl’s Wood. The department is under-staffed and lacked proper management for much of 2014. New commissioning arrangements and a change of Healthcare contractor on 1st September exacerbated the problems. GP hours have been cut and the counselling service withdrawn.’ (paras 4.5-4.6)
Yarl’s Wood was inspected by HMIP in 2015. In his report, Nick Hardwick, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, said, ‘Yarl’s Wood has deteriorated since our last inspection and the needs of the women held have grown. In my view, decisive action is needed to ensure women are only detained as a last resort.’ (p.7)
In February 2015, the Home Secretary announced that she had commissioned an independent review of the policies and procedures affecting the welfare of those held in immigration removal centres. This review, being conducted by Stephen Shaw, the former Prisons and Probations Ombudsman, is expected to be completed in the near future. It follows on from another Home Office commissioned review: the Tavistock Institute’s Review of Mental Health Issues in Immigration Removal Centres.
The National Audit Office is also carrying out an investigation into Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, due to report in the spring.
House of Commons Library briefing, Immigration Detention in the UK: an overview, 7294
House of Commons Library briefing, Ending Child Immigration Detention, 5591
House of Commons Library briefing, Immigration and Asylum: changes made by the Coalition Government 2010-2015, 5829
HM Inspectorate of Prisons, Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, August 2015 [report of unannounced inspection and Service Improvement Plan]
Independent Monitoring Board, Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, Annual Report 2014
Care Quality Commission, Yarl’s Wood Immigration Detention Centre, CQC Profile
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Commons Debate packs CDP-2016-0001
Author: Ben Politowski