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Prison nursing

Prison nursing

Prison nurses can be employed either directly by the prison service or by the NHS. Increasingly, they are employed by the NHS and their work is overseen by the local community provider service.

Nursing in prisons is comparable to working as a practice nurse in a GP surgery but is arguably more challenging, with higher a concentration of patients needing help for mental health and substance misuse problems. 

Entry requirements

To work as a prison nurse, you need to be qualified, registered nurse,  preferably be in adult, mental health or learning disabilities.


You will get training on prison related aspects of your work, in addition to normal continuing professional development (CPD) activities. The partnership between the prison service and the NHS means that work and development opportunities are available to you in both organisations at the same time.

Prison specific training is also available, including healthcare manager leadership training, vocational qualifications in custodial healthcare and transcultural healthcare practice training.

Comprehensive induction programmes are available at local level.


For details of current vacancies for prison nurses, visit NHS Jobs and the prison service website. For general information about employment within the prison service, contact your human resources department or the nursing adviser at your local prison.