Prison psychiatric service review almost done, minister says

James McLeod
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Justice Minister Felix Collins — File photo

The results of a review of the psychiatric service at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary is coming soon, the justice minister vowed Thursday.

Nearly a year ago, Felix Collins ordered a peer review of Dr. David Craig, the psychiatrist who provides services to the prison system.

Thursday in the House of Assembly, responding to a question by Liberal MHA Andrew Parsons, Collins said that review is done, and the government is awaiting the final written report.

“The review is finished. The groundwork is finished. We are now waiting on the report,” he said. “We expect the report very shortly.”

The government ordered a clinical review responding to controversy around a report by citizens’ representative Barry Fleming.

Fleming looked into numerous complaints from inmates who said Craig takes a very harsh, conservative approach to psychiatric medication.

Many inmates report Craig takes them off medication prescribed to them by other doctors before they were incarcerated.

At the time, Collins argued Fleming wasn’t in a position to make that kind of judgment, since he’s not a psychiatrist.

The only solution was to order a peer review of Craig’s service.

On Thursday, Collins said it’s taken this long because it wasn’t easy to find another psychiatrist who specializes in working with prisoners.

“We had to identify a person across the country who would be prepared to do that review,” Collins said. “All I will tell you at this moment is that it’s a person who practises psychiatry in a correctional setting.”

Collins wouldn’t put a time limit on when they will get the report, but Parsons said it’s already taken too long.

“It was nice to finally get an answer, and it’s nice to see that it’s finally done — apparently,” he said. “It’s almost a year ago, now. It doesn’t have to be this long, and he can certainly be a little more forthcoming than he is.”

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