Dr Catherine Cox, Centre for the History of Medicine in Ireland (University College Dublin) and Professor Hilary Marland, Centre for the History of Medicine (University of Warwick ) have commenced work on a major five-year project, funded by a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award ‘Prisoners, Medical Care and Entitlement to Health in England and Ireland, 1850-2000’.
The project team will undertake research into topics that resonate with current concerns in the prison service, including the very high incidence of mental health problems amongst prisoners, the health of women and maternity services in prison, and responses to addiction and HIV/AIDS. All the different strands of research will straddle the period from the start of the modern prison system in the mid-nineteenth century up to the current day, and compare the provision of medical services and notions of the entitlement of prisoners to health in both England and Ireland. The team will seek to answer the overarching questions of who advocates for prisoners’ health; to what extent are prisoners deemed entitled to health care; how do debates on entitlement and human rights influence the provision of medical care for prisoners; and to what extent are prison doctors constrained by dual loyalty to the prison service and to prisoners themselves, their patients? The project will engage with policy makers and prison reform organisations, and involve several policy workshops. It will also result in several public outreach projects, including a commissioned theatrical production and artwork.