- The DCS says checks have revealed that for nearly 20 years, there has been no established post for a pharmacist in the system.
- Six applications were received, and interviews will be conducted this week with a view to having the pharmacist work on a sessional basis.
- At present, medication to inmates is dispensed to the institutions based on prescriptions written by medical doctors at the correctional facilities.
The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) says efforts have been under way to resolve the issue regarding the absence of a pharmacist in the correctional system.
The DCS says checks have revealed that for nearly 20 years, there has been no established post for a pharmacist in the system, and has over the years been asking for the post to be put back on the establishment.
The last such request was made in January 2013, when it wrote the Ministry of Finance and Planning requesting permission to employ three pharmacists on a sessional basis.
Permission was granted in August 2013, and advertisements were placed inviting pharmacists to apply.
Six applications were received, and interviews will be conducted this week with a view to having the pharmacist work on a sessional basis.
The fact is that it is extremely difficult to attract professionals to the service because of the salary scales in the government service. However, the Department of Correctional Services is making every effort to have the situation resolved in the shortest possible time.
At present, medication to inmates is dispensed to the institutions based on prescriptions written by medical doctors at the correctional facilities.
A pharmacy technician and a registered nurse fill the prescriptions which are then checked off and recorded by inventory clerks. The Consultant Medical Officer oversees this process.
It must be noted that previous moves to take inmates to medical facilities for treatment and medication raised security concerns, as there were attempted escapes; inmates trying to meet with family members, and concern that critically ill inmates were being taken into the public space.
Regarding the situation at the South Camp Correctional Centre for Girls, there are currently 41 girls at the facility.
Of the 128 members of staff, 59 are female correctional officers; 52 are male correctional officers and 17 female civilian staff.
The male correctional officers are primarily responsible for the security of the compound. The male correctional officers on duty in the sentry boxes cannot see into any of the female dormitories.
Male correctional officers are always accompanied by female correctional officers for any task which takes them within the precincts of the dormitories.
The Department of Correctional Services says wards are not stripped to prevent them from committing suicide. It notes however, that occasionally the wards in their bouts of uncontrollable behaviour will strip themselves.
The DCS is reiterating that no male correctional officers work on the dorms, and as such do not monitor wards on suicide watch. Female correctional officers closely monitor the wards in compliance with the suicide/self harm policy.
The DCS says it has been making steps to improve the welfare of the wards in its care. Additional medical, psychological and psychiatric support has been put in place with the two welfare case managers, and the psychologist visiting at least twice weekly. The medical doctor and the psychiatrist visit twice per week.
Staff at the institution receive specialised training regarding suicide and self harm, as well as the appropriate response to display in response to the wards’ behaviour.
At present there are no wards on suicide watch. Up to the end of last year, there were ten girls who attempted suicide. Seven are still at the facility. Most of these girls transitioned from Places of Safety with poor parental/family support and contact.
The DCS notes that the management of juveniles is a sensitive issue and it is moving to ensure that the female correctional officers who work at the facility are properly trained in how to deal with this group. The DCS notes however that there has been reluctance by some of the correctional officers to work at the South Camp Road facility. It is anticipated that adequate training will address this problem
The DCS has also initiated a number of measures to increase parental support and contact.
With the support of the Ministry of National Security, the DCS started transporting parents from across the island to the South Camp Facility for Parents Day on November 21, 2013, and Christmas Dinner on December 18. An option for staying over for one night was offered to mothers.
The parents have also commended the DCS for the work that is being done with their children, and expressed satisfaction with the facility.
There has also been an increase in the number of parents visiting on weekends, compared to previous occasions. Arrangements are in place for parents to visit every weekend if they desire.
Parents living within reasonable distance of the facility were also encouraged to visit their children at the facility.