It is just over a year since the launch of the Rebalancing Act publication on 11 January 2017 (read our first article on this last year) so perfect timing to take stock of what has been achieved so far and to see what plans are underway for the future. The Rebalancing Act involves Public Health England, the Home Office, NHS England and the charity Revolving Doors, collaborating with the common aim of driving change to ensure that individuals within the criminal justice system (CJS) are not subject to health inequality. The idea of the Act was not to develop new services, but to ensure current services are taking a collaborative approach to deliver more effective care.

What action has been taken during the past year?

Whilst one year is a relatively short time to measure success, undoubtedly headway has been made. NHS England reports progress across the board with organisations working together, including:

  • the commissioning of consistent standards of care across secure environments, including new specifications for mental health and substance misuse services in secure premises, and an improved screening process
  • revision of secure hospital transfer guidance and involvement with the review of the Mental Health Act
  • working to eliminate hepatitis C amongst those within the secure setting
  • taking action to ensure children and young people, who face complexities within secure settings, are being appropriately supported
  • the Secure Stairs programme which focuses on safeguarding and minimising deaths in custody and near misses
  • gender targeted best practice being implemented into women’s prisons, and a development of improved health pathways

What has the past year shown?

Kate Davies OBE, NHS England’s director of health and justice has recently said ‘whilst many improvements have been made, there is still more to achieve, emphasising the importance of the Rebalancing Act in supporting stakeholders at local, regional and national levels to work together, learn by doing and ultimately be greater than the sum of our parts’.

Whilst it is clear a lot of change is underway and plans are being implemented, there is little data available at present to evidence the effectiveness of the Rebalancing Act. This is to be expected only one year down the line, and hopefully as time passes this data will become more readily available and demonstrate the positive outcomes that have been achieved.