Lord Dholakia – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Department of Health

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Lord Dholakia on 2016-01-26.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what percentage of prisoners they plan to test for blood-borne viruses in each of the next five years, in the light of the introduction of opt-out testing in prisons.

Lord Prior of Brampton

Public Health England (PHE) working in partnership with NHS England and the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) have been implementing opt-out testing for blood-borne viruses (BBVs) since 2013/14 through a phased implementation programme using ‘pathfinder prisons’ with plans for the programme to be available in every adult prison in England by the end of financial year 2016/17. All consenting eligible adult prisoners will be offered the opportunity to test.

Prisoners eligible for testing include those not known to be infected with BBVs who have not been tested recently and/or who had risk behaviour since their last test. Therefore over the next five years and beyond, we plan to offer tests for BBVs to all adult prisoners who fall into these categories. Phased implementation of the BBV opt-out testing programme in prisons has been informed by evaluation of pathfinder prisons. Preliminary data from suggests a near doubling of BBV testing following the introduction of the opt-out testing policy. Offer, uptake and outcome of testing is being collected by both the Health & Justice Indicators of Performance at prison level as well as through PHE’s sentinel surveillance study.