Working in offender healthcare

Offender healthcare is a unique and challenging branch of healthcare, offering opportunities to work in a variety of roles within the prison system.

It's a career that allows you to significantly impact individuals' lives, providing care and support to a population often overlooked. 

With various roles available, from frontline nursing to administrative and managerial positions, there's a place for a wide range of skills and specialties in prison healthcare.

What's covered?

We will provide you with the key information you need to consider offender healthcare roles in south east London.

You can either scroll through the entire page or jump to particular sections.

Who are Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust?

Learn about Oxleas who are a leading provider of healthcare services to people in prison. 

What jobs are available?

Find out more about the wide range of roles available in this diverse and important field.

How can I get
What do different roles involve?

Take a deeper dive into what some roles involve day to day and where they take place.

How can I get
started?

Take some of the first steps to find and apply for your ideal offender care role.

Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust

Oxleas are the leading provider of offender healthcare within secure environments across Kent, South East and South West London. They are the first place to look for offender healthcare roles in SE London. Working for them has many benefits, including:

Forward thinking

Oxleas are the leading provider of offender healthcare with a commitment to excellence and innovation.

Support

Benefit from a supportive work culture with over 4,000 professionals, providing opportunities for personal growth and development.

Diversity

Oxleas offers a wide range of services, including mental health, nursing, and therapies, in various secure environments.
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What their staff say

Working as an administrator in a prison can be a rewarding, yet sometimes challenging career in an environment like no other.

We have a duty of care to every patient and we strive to deliver safe and effective care to each individual.

When I first applied for a role in a prison, I was very apprehensive as to how I would feel and looked at it as a bit of a gamble. What if I didn’t like it? What if I felt threatened?

I have now been working here for 14 months and I have to say it was the best career decision I have made.

Dawn, Administrator
Oxleas is a great place to develop your career. Working within a prison can seem scary at first but you'll have the support you need from your team to make a difference every day.

I see the prison as an individual community where I work with a variety of people and provide urgent care, routine health screens like a GP practice and complex needs care to the patients.

I have the unique opportunity to support someone throughout their time in prison and make a significant difference to their lives.


Ellen, Clinical Lead

Where you can work with Oxleas

Oxleas work from a number of locations across SE London and London. Take a look at the map below to explore this further.

What jobs are available in offender healthcare?

Offender healthcare is a field that focuses on providing essential healthcare services in challenging yet rewarding environments. Roles range from direct medical and psychological care to administrative and support functions, all aimed at improving health outcomes and aiding rehabilitation.

Here are some popular positions within this sector:

Registered nurse

Delivers both general and specialised care to offenders, addressing a wide range of health needs.

Mental health nurse

Specialises in mental health care, providing crucial support and treatment to offenders with mental health issues.

Substance misuse nurse

Plays a pivotal role in rehabilitation by assisting in drug and alcohol recovery programmes.

Nurse practitioner

Offers advanced healthcare, including diagnosis and treatment, within the prison setting.

Healthcare administrator

 Ensures the smooth operation of healthcare services.

Inpatient clinical nurse manager

Oversees the nursing staff and healthcare operations, ensuring quality care and efficient service delivery within the prison.

Healthcare assistant

Provides both physical and psychological care to patients, following specific care plans.

Pharmacy assistant

Contributes to the effective running of prison pharmacy services, playing a vital role in medication management and distribution.

What do different roles involve?

Let’s look at some roles in more detail. Read these short profiles to find out what a day in the life of these roles involves. 

Registered nurse

WHAT
Providing comprehensive nursing care to offenders, addressing a wide range of health needs from acute illnesses to chronic conditions. Registered nurses in prisons play a critical role in health assessments, treatment planning, and medication management, while also offering health education and preventive care.
WHO
These nurses are qualified professionals, often with experience in various healthcare settings. They must be adaptable, resilient, and skilled in delivering care in a secure environment, with an understanding of the unique healthcare challenges faced by the prison population.
WHERE
Registered nurses work in the healthcare units of prisons, which may include medical wards, outpatient clinics, and specialised units within the prison system. They collaborate closely with other healthcare professionals to provide integrated care to offenders.

Healthcare administrator

WHAT
Managing the administrative and operational aspects of prison healthcare services.

This includes overseeing staff scheduling, budget management, healthcare compliance, and ensuring the smooth running of services.

Healthcare administrators in prisons also play a key role in policy development and implementation, aiming to improve healthcare delivery within the correctional setting.
WHO
These administrators typically have a background in healthcare management or administration, with strong organisational and leadership skills.

They must be adept at navigating the complexities of the prison system while maintaining a focus on delivering high-quality healthcare services.
Where
Healthcare Administrators are usually based in the administrative offices within prison healthcare facilities.

They work closely with medical staff, prison officials, and external agencies to coordinate and improve healthcare services for offenders.

Pharmacy assistant

WHAT
Assisting in the management and distribution of medications within the prison setting.

Pharmacy Assistants handle the procurement of drugs, maintain stock levels, and assist in dispensing medications to offenders.

They play a critical role in ensuring the safe and efficient supply of medicines, adhering to strict security and healthcare regulations.
WHO
These assistants often have experience in pharmacy services, with knowledge of pharmaceutical products and inventory management.

They require attention to detail, strong organisational skills, and the ability to work under the unique conditions of the prison environment.
WHERE
Pharmacy assistants work in the pharmacy departments of prisons, collaborating with pharmacists and other healthcare professionals.

They ensure that the medication needs of the prison population are met in a timely and secure manner.

It’s always helpful to hear from people doing the job already, and to find out what they enjoy about their role.

Watch this video to hear about some people’s experience of working at Oxleas.

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A day in the life

Oyin works as a registered nurse in Oxleas prison service. Let's look at what a normal day looks like for her.

Morning preparation

Oyin starts her day at 7:30 am.

She switches off her phone and secures it in her vehicle, then gears up with her prison belt, key chain, radio pouch, and clear work bag.

Security protocols

Upon arrival, she shows her ID to security operator Amy and undergoes a thorough security search which is a bit like an airport security check.

Nursing duties commence

She then joins her colleagues, has a handover from the night nurse, and starts her nursing duties, including providing medication and inmate care.

Emergency response

A general alarm at 2pm signals an emergency. Oyin responds promptly, providing first aid to an inmate involved in a fight.

Evening wrap-up

As the evening approaches, Oyin completes medication rounds, attends to various health concerns, and prepares for the handover to the night nurse.

What pay and benefits can I expect?

A career in offender care is not just rewarding in terms of personal fulfilment, it also comes with a range of benefits.
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Flexible hours

Many roles offer flexible working hours. This allows you to balance your personal life and work commitments effectively, whether it's part-time, full-time, or shift work, depending on the role.

Diverse locations

Opportunities in offender health care are available in a variety of locations. This lets you find a work environment that best suits your preferences.

Competitive salary

The pay scale in offender healthcare varies based on role, experience, and qualifications. However, it is generally competitive, with opportunities for progression and higher earning potential as you gain more experience and specialised skills.

Training and development 

The offender healthcare sector places a strong emphasis on professional growth. You can expect comprehensive training upon entry, and continuous professional development opportunities throughout your career. This may include specialised certifications, workshops, and further education support.

How can I get started?

In offender healthcare, it's not just your qualifications or past experience that count. What's more important is your commitment to the right values and behaviors.

A career in offender healthcare is about more than just technical skills; it's about adopting the right attitude and perspective.
01

Develop skills and understand values

To excel in offender healthcare roles, certain skills and values are fundamental. These include:

  • Empathy, kindness, and a caring attitude.

  • Trustworthiness and reliability in sensitive environments.

  • Awareness of and respect for the unique challenges within the offender population.

  • Honesty and transparency in all interactions.

02

Gain experience in offender healthcare

Gaining practical experience in offender healthcare can greatly enhance your understanding of the field and strengthen your job application. Consider these avenues:

Shadowing professionals in offender healthcare settings.

Volunteering with organisations that provide healthcare services to offenders.

Engaging in community initiatives that interact with the offender population.

Use experiences from sectors like social work or community services, which offer relevant transferable skills.


03

Gain qualifications for a career in offender healthcare

While entering offender healthcare doesn't always require specific qualifications, certain certifications can deepen your understanding and skillset:

  • Certificates or diplomas in healthcare, nursing, or related fields: These provide essential knowledge and skills for working in offender healthcare environments.

  • Specialised training in offender healthcare: This might include courses in substance misuse, mental health support for offenders, or crisis intervention.

  • Apprenticeships in healthcare: Combining practical experience with academic learning, these apprenticeships can be a pathway to specialised roles in offender healthcare, offering hands-on training and valuable insights into the sector.

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