What do you think of the report by the Prison Reform Trust and the National Aids Trust, which says prisons are failing on hepatitis C?
I am chair of the all-party prison health group, and we are most concerned about hepatitis C because the treatment is enormously expensive. Only last week, I had dinner with two doctors who service prisons in the home counties. They told me some really hair-raising stories about the level of healthcare and the small amount of money spent on the health of prisoners.
Has your group been looking at HIV and hepatitis C in prisons?
It's not something that the group has yet concentrated on. One of my aims in the next few months is to compile a report on prisoner health that takes in this latest report on HIV and Aids as well as hepatitis, and which covers the whole gamut of problems - including the fact that so little is spent on healthcare for prisoners.
Will the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Prison Health be acting on the report?
I think we might well be, yes. One of the problems with these all-party groups is that MPs are committed to so many things.
This is an issuethat a number of us are deeply concerned about, and I've already had meetings with specialist doctors and been to visit a number of prisons. But trying to raise the issue, and to get the discussions on the particular issues of HIV and Aids on top of drugs, hepatitis and more general healthcare, is difficult. The other problem, of course, is that there are no votes in this.
Who should concerned groups address?
I think the all-party groups are a very good vehicle. We get three or four MPs or three or four peers at our meetings. The power the committees themselves have is to publish reports that are then sent to the relevant government minister.