Farewell To Healthcare In Colonies

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Russian Federal Service for Execution of Punishment´s authorities handed down a decision on the optimization of the number of senior posts. Particularly, according to this pronouncement, in order to optimize the Penal Enforcement Systems´ healthcare service, the reduction of senior medical staff is required. Moreover, this decision also says that the healthcare staff should be minimized just for them to be able to provide special functions, such as: the examination of each-cell´s inmates, check-ups before placing someone into punitive isolation wards or ward-type rooms and medical pre-assessment at the moment of a prisoner´s intake into a correctional facility.

We consider unacceptable the implementation of the decision on medical staff reduction on the following grounds: the manning of the Direction of the Russian Federal Service for Execution of Punishment´s healthcare service in the Republic of Udmurtia constitutes only 36% of the norm, which already creates problems with administering timely and appropriate medical aid to prisoners. If we take into account the fact that the senior medical staff, as a rule, is composed of skilled professionals, the reduction of their number can lead to a significant deterioration of the quality of medical aid serviced to prisoners. For its part, this will inevitably result into the growing fatality rate in the Penal Enforcement System.

The reduction of skilled professional staff and the recruitment of doctors from public health institutions will by no means lead to the optimization of the correctional system´s medical service. On the contrary, the present situation makes it clear that prisoners will be virtually left without any possibility to get a quick and high quality treatment. For example, if we take institutions of the Republic of Mordovia, Russia, despite a comparatively big number of confinement institutions there, there are still no contracts signed with public health organizations, and the prisoners are deprived of the possibility of consulting highly specialized doctors. A recent example of that is the death of prisoner Igor Korneyev in March, 2013, as well as repeated appeals by Gabuyev Oleg, who didn´t and doesn´t get timely consultations and treatment administration from an angiosurgeon. These are only the cases that human rights defenders have got familiar with in the several months of 2013, and we can only imagine how many latent cases of serious diseases like these there can be.

Moreover, after the implementation of the Russian Federal Service for Execution of Punishment´s decision on the medical staff reduction, the expenses of the Russian Federal Service for Execution of Punishment will escalate as no public institution will be willing to attend the correctional system facilities for free. The minimum condition for professionals to provide consultations or treatment for prisoners in need right in a correctional facility is to make contracts, do prepayment and solve logistic issues of professionals´ delivery to the place; so the Russian Federal Service for Execution of Punishment´s decision is leading to a situation where prisoners will be deprived of timely and high quality medical aid.

It is strange that the correctional system staff optimization is realized through the most problematic life-saving department. Why aren´t they restructuring the operation branch?

Larisa Fefilova,
President of Public Monitoring Committee of the Republic of Udmurtia

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