No plan to appoint a doctor full-time at Cork Prison

No plan to appoint a doctor full-time at Cork Prison
Cells and landing area in Cork prison. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THERE are no plans to hire a permanent GP for Cork Prison.

The prison, which has a capacity for 296 inmates, is served by a locum GP service.

Just four prisons out of the State’s 12 have their own dedicated GP.

They are Mountjoy, the Dochas centre for women, the Midlands, and Cloverhill.

A panel of 30 GPs provides a locum service to the remaining eight prisons. Each of those eight are serviced by locums in their area.

Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, said: “The Irish Prison Service continues to explore, and develop, all possible avenues to ensure the recruitment of permanent prison doctors, and procure the services of qualified general practitioners to maintain its delivery of effective general practitioner services.”

However, a spokesman for the Irish Prison Service said there are no immediate plans to hire a GP for Cork Prison, where there are regularly up to 300 inmates. Nine inmates of the prison were sleeping on mattresses on the floor yesterday.

For the past three days, numbers in the prison have spiked, and it has been over-capacity.

The figure climbed from 299 on Monday to 305 yesterday. The prison has a capacity for 296 inmates.

Late last year, there were two occasions when eight inmates had to sleep on mattresses: on December 5 and 7.

Figures supplied by Minister Flanagan revealed that there were dates in July when the numbers sleeping on mattresses spiked to over 20. On July 3 and 4, there were 21 inmates on mattresses on the floor.

The prison was opened in early 2016.

According to the Irish Prison Service, space has been at a premium in Cork Prison in recent times because of construction work at Limerick Prison, which means that offenders cannot be transferred from Cork to there.

Overcrowding had consistently been an issue in the old prison, but it had been anticipated that the new prison would operate under-capacity.

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