Prison Medical Services


While someone is in prison, they can expect to be provided with medical, dental, psychiatric and psychological care. A Director who is a medical specialist heads the Prison Medical Service.

Section 35 of the Prisons Act 2007 came into effect in May 2007 and provides for the making of prison rules. Prison rules set out the the various conditions in prisons in Ireland and include all aspects of admission, registration, accommodation, visiting rights, health, discipline, education, etc. The new Act extends the range of matters covered by prison rules. The prison rules (SI No. 252/2007) came into operation in October 2007.

Medical Services

Medical doctors provide medical services in all prisons. They must pay particular attention to prisoners with psychiatric problems.

Professionally qualified nurses assist the prison doctors and the nurses provide 24-hour cover in closed prisons.

If a prisoner needs hospital treatment, they will be transferred to outside hospitals, after a recommendation by the prison doctor. They may also be taken to local hospitals for outpatient treatment if it is required.

Psychiatric Services

If someone needs psychiatric treatment while they are in prison, this will be provided by visiting psychiatrists employed by the Health Service Executive (HSE).

If the psychiatrist and the prison doctor consider that you are in need of in-patient psychiatric treatment, you may be transferred to either the Central Mental Hospital or a district mental hospital.

Counselling and care support will also be provided after your release from prison at the HSE's day centre at Usher's Island in Dublin.

Psychology Service

If a prisoner needs psychological treatment while in prison, it will be provided by the Psychology Service.

The main function of the Psychology Service is to provide prisoners with on-going therapy and supportive counselling. This counselling aims to increase awareness of problems and help to develop alternative strategies for dealing with criminal behaviour.

The Psychology Service also provides a variety of programmes for sex offenders and a cognitive skills course for prisoners.

Dental Services

Dental treatment is provided on a similar basis to that available in the general community under the Medical Card scheme. In the Dublin prisons, dental services are provided by means of a contract arrangement with the Dublin Dental Hospital for the provision of dental staff to the prisons, while, elsewhere, local dentists provide the service.

Further information

Further information on the Prison Medical Service is available on the Prison Service website.

Page edited: 8 August 2016