This article is a stub. Please feel free to expand it and make it more encyclopaedic.
Many prisoners have learning disabilities.
Many prisoners have mental health problems.
Many prisoners have physical health problems.
Many prisoners come from countries with high rates of infectious diseases.
Many prisoners come from countries with low rates of diseases such as chickenpox, which is endemic in Europe, thus making prisons vulnerable to outbreaks of diseases for which there is herd immunity in the general population.
Many prisoners are addicted to drugs. New committals often report taking larger quantities of prescription drugs than their GPs confirm; whether this reflects the fact that they have been previously obtaining extra supplies illicitly or simply their desire to take more medication is moot. Prisoner serving shorter sentences are unlikely to obtain full benefit from a phased withdrawal as they may be released before the programme is completed. When a withdrawal programme has been successfully completed they must be advised against returning to their previous habits as their habituation to the drug will have attenuated.
Prison is a setting in which sexes are segregated, which may lead to homosexual acts, with (for men) their attendant health risks.
Prisons are settings in which individuals are kept in close contact with other individuals for prolonged periods, sometimes in unhygienic conditions, thus facilitating the passing on of infections.
Prisons are settings in which individuals with normally somewhat chaotic lifestyles can be treated successfully for conditions which require more stability, such as tuberculosis (which requires long-term antimicrobial chemotherapy).
Most prisoners tend to stay in one prison for a relatively short time before they are moved to another prison, or released into the community; and there are often problems with ensuring that medical notes are transferred between prisons, and between prisons health care units and community GPs (the latter because they may be released by the courts without reference to the prison healthcare staff).
Prison medical services are now co-ordinated in Engalnd by Primary Care Trusts and in Northern Ireland by one Health and Social Care Trust (currently South Eastern)