Prison placement scheme launched in Lothian

A groundbreaking new scheme designed to improve health and tackle re-offending is being launched in Lothian.

NHS Lothian is working with the Scottish Prison Service to help provide meaningful rehabilitation to offenders at the end of their prison term.

Specially selected people, who are about to be released back into the community, are being given job placements in specifically chosen areas to help them plan ahead for the future and secure employment.

It is intended that the pilot scheme will prepare the people selected for the workplace and in turn break the cycle of re-offending.

Alan Boyter, Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development, NHS Lothian, said patient safety will not be compromised by the scheme and those people selected will be risk assessed before the placement begins.

He said: "The project is designed to help tackle social exclusion and to improve health and we are committed to working with SPS to make this pilot project a real success.

"We have put considerable effort working in partnership with SPS to work out how this scheme will work to make it the very best it can be for our organisation, staff and of course patient safety, social responsibility and wider public health issues designed to prevent people from re-offending.

"We have the support of trades unions and professional organisations and will ensure that staff feel supported throughout."

Candidates who are suitable for the placements will undergo induction, training and orientation before they enter the workplace and begin their individual placement, which has been designed to meet their specific needs.

Then they will also be matched with a mentor, who has also undergone training to help them provide support, education and advice.

SPS will provide specialist care officers who will be appointed to oversee and provide support to the individual and NHS Lothian.

The placements will vary depending on the candidate, but at the end of the placement individuals will be considered for possible employment within the NHS.

Alex Joyce, Employee Director, NHS Lothian, said: "We are very happy to support this project. If any staff have any reservations about the scheme, we would be happy to discuss with them. Breaking the links between poverty and ill health benefits everyone in society."

Caroline Johnston, Governor, HMP Edinburgh said: "We are delighted to be working in partnership with NHS Lothian. This new scheme will provide opportunities for those people who are nearing release to improve their chances of a positive future with improved health and well-being, employment opportunities and pro-social citizenship."