Recently somebody visiting the field gate stall left a note in our comments book…
“I’m rather worried about the lovely old man in the veg garden, he’s been hobbling for a few days”.
On reading this I rushed off to find Benny. He has been hobbling of late, an in-growing toenail to blame.
Hardly able to contain my glee that, for once, someone else (i.e. not me) had been noted for their age, I blurted out the news. Benny replied, “Oh that’s nice, but I think it probably means you and your twisted knee, old man”.
True, we were both limping a bit.
Benny’s toe nail saga has been a source of intense pain, to us all. He has tried to get various appointments with the prison health care team, but nothing forthcoming.
Anecdotally we are often told about prison GP appointments taking over three months and even longer.
A few weeks ago, in desperation, he soaked his toe in a hideous dilution of warm TCP antiseptic. We had to evacuate the whole building and still the toe was no better.
Out of interest we looked up his healthcare rights as a prisoner and it is quite clear:
“Prisoners get the same healthcare and treatment as anyone outside of prison”.
So, for a comparison, I phoned up my local surgery. I could see a duty doctor that evening to examine my twisted knee and, if required, a hospital referral would be organised in a few days.
We also looked up recent HMP Inspectorate reports on waiting times for a prison doctor, they state:
“GP appointment waiting times, which, at approximately six weeks, are too long.”
Factor into this that about 30% of prisoners are on a daily prescription (“script”). For example, for Methadone a synthetic opiate (heroin replacement). This essential pharmacy work takes up time and staff resources and therefore it becomes difficult to get a timely GP appointment.
In the end we drove Benny (with permission from HMP) to our local hospital to have the toenail removed.
You will be relieved to know that the toe and Benny are making a full recovery…
He is now happily grumbling that his prison optician appointment has taken over 18 months and he expects to be actually released from prison before seeing the jail dentist!
He does make a point.
Thankfully, by way of a distraction from this thought loop, Benny was momentarily silenced when we discovered the author of the kind note at the stall was in fact Benny…
It was his handwriting!