FEMALE inmates at a prison near York are benefiting from an £80,000 revamp of the jail’s health clinic.

Thanks to the money invested by North Yorkshire and York Primary Care Trust (PCT), the 128 convicts at Askham Grange women’s prison now have access to health care services equal to those available within the community.

Health promotion initiatives are also run from the clinic, including smoking cessation, weight management, counselling sessions and midwifery services.

“The idea is to encourage the inmates to lead a healthy lifestyle in the hope it will help them to make positive changes in their lives.

Elaine Hawley, head of health care at Askham Grange, said: “Some of the women currently staying here have never in their lives registered with a GP, which prevents them from accessing the health care services they need to help maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“The clinic here offers residents an opportunity to access a full range of health care services and receive advice on how to register with a GP once they have completed their stay.

“his will also encourage some women to reinforce the message of staying healthy with their children and other family members.

“We’re delighted with the new clinic and our new facilities, which enhance the health care we deliver to prison residents, helping them to rehabilitate and make a positive contribution to society.”

The clinic sees about 30 patients a day, with inmates able to access GP services three times per week.

Susan Field, Askham Grange’s operational manager, said: “One way in which the prison service can help rehabilitate female offenders is to encourage on-going engagement with statutory agencies, such as health, education, employment and benefit services.

“Introducing people to the health care system and encouraging prison residents to look after their health can have a really positive affect on their well-being and outlook on life.”

Melanie Bradbury, assistant director of vulnerable people and third sector commissioning, said: “By working closely with our prison and health care colleagues at Askham Grange, we can ensure that vulnerable women are able to receive the health care support they need to make positive changes in their lives.”