A REPORT has criticised the healthcare on offer at Belmarsh Prison and says it could "impede work on preventing re-offending".

Last week the Independent Monitoring Board published its annual report into the Woolwich-based jail which is home to some of the country's most dangerous criminals.

The report stated prisoners frequently complain of being "rebuffed" by prison nurses and told they do not need to see the GP when they have what they feel are "on-going and worrying-to-them" medical problems.

It added there is an "ongoing concern" that some prisoners with complex health requirements cannot be treated adequately in Belmarsh.

The report says some prisoners with severe mental health problems have been forced to wait 20 weeks before being resettled in a more suitable prison, and adds: "resettlement is one of the key ways to prevent re-offending by prisoners."

Chair of the Board, Barry O’Connor, said: "Although Belmarsh is a generally well run prison, we are concerned about the impact of future cutbacks on the regime for prisoners, in the context of a complex prison where the need to provide acceptable custodial care in a high security environment for a wide range of prisoners cannot be done on the cheap."

The report also stated: "Belmarsh is a well managed prison with a generally dedicated workforce and a highly competent management team.

"The board has a good working relationship with staff which benefits those who are the focus of our efforts, namely the prison population."

A prison service spokesman said: "We thank the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Belmarsh for their report which will be fully considered by ministers.

"We will respond to the board in due course."