Helping detainees in need of medical assistance

Responsibilities for Healthcare in Detention

Most IRCs are run by private companies such as Serco, G4S and Mitie commissioned by the Home Office.   The rest are run by the National Offender Management Services (NOMS, i.e. ex-Prison service).

Until September 2014 healthcare was the responsibility of the Home Office. Now NHS England is responsible for commissioning healthcare for those detained in immigration removal centres (IRCs) and short term holding facilities (STHF). Responsibility was transferred to the NHS because of the inadequate standard of healthcare and because of concerns that the Home office’s imperative to remove people was in conflict with healthcare professional’s duty of care.

This transfer may lead to improvements in the long term. However, healthcare in immigration detention is commissioned by the same people who commission prison healthcare and much of the central guidance applying to healthcare in prisons is being applied inappropriately to immigration detention.

NHS England is responsible for most secondary care for immigration detainees, though some very specialist services will fall instead to NHS England specialist commissioning.


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"Looking at where I am now and where I have been, I cannot imagine getting here without the help of Medical Justice."

(Former detainee)