Healthcare provider ends Walton Jail deal

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Walton Prison. Pic © Marcello Dotolo JMU Journalism

One of Britain’s “most deprived” prisons has lost its contract with a healthcare provider, leaving inmates with an uncertain future.

Lancashire Care has terminated its deal at HMP Liverpool in Walton, after rejecting a £6.7million offer from NHS England, which was deemed an “unsustainable” amount of money to continue to fulfil its health and welfare duties.

There had been agreement by Lancashire Care to carry on up to April, but that will now be the end date. Another healthcare provider is reported to have been lined up by the NHS, but no details have been confirmed.

The news comes as a devastating blow after a chaotic period at the jail last year, with the governor, Peter Francis, removed from his post after a two-week, unannounced visit by inspectors in September.

Timeline of events

1855 – Walton Gaol opens to replace 18th Century prison in centre of Liverpool.

1939 – IRA attempt to bomb prison wall during S-Plan terror campaign.

1940 – Prison wing bombed during Liverpool World War II Blitz – 22 inmates killed.

2003 – Inspection finds Walton Jail overcrowded, unclean, and dangerous.

2010 – Further inspection finds the prison leading the nation in drug use, bullying and violence.

2015 – Three prison officers hospitalised after being attacked during riot.

Two days of riots over a proposed smoking ban followed shortly after the inspection, leading to two prisoners suffering injuries. Another man, Carl Newman, 23, of Kirkby, then died in custody in October.

A report later revealed cockroaches, exposed live electricity cables, and squalid bathrooms. It also noted a significant failings in leadership and management and a backlog of nearly 2,000 uncompleted ‘vital’ maintenance tasks, leading to the closure of Walton Jail to any further inmates.

Solicitor Leanne Devine, of city lawyers, Broudie, Jackson and Canter, who represent families who have lost loved ones in the prison, said: “The withdrawal of Lancashire Care providing healthcare at HMP Liverpool is deeply concerning, particularly at a time when significant criticisms have been made along with poor and inadequate healthcare provided at the prison.

“With conditions described as ‘worst ever seen by inspectors,’ along with the lack of basic healthcare, particularly mental health, the continued number of deaths, is extremely worrying. There is a clear need for immediate action to be taken to ensure that HMP Liverpool has sufficient funding to provide adequate and proper healthcare for some of the most vulnerable people in society.”

Fourteen inmates are said to have died at the prison over the last two years, the highest number in recorded history.

HMP Liverpool has been approached for comment by JMU Journalism, but it has not provided a response.

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