Majella Pearce – Deputy Head of Health Care

I joined the Inspectorate’s health care team in September 2012.

I qualified as a general nurse in 1993 and worked in three prisons between 2001 and 2010 in several different roles, including health care manager, professional development lead and Integrated Drug Treatment Service lead. I have also worked in community substance misuse settings in London and Devon. This work included crisis residential (helping people with urgent emergency/psychiatric needs to become stable), being a health promotion lead and nurse prescriber.

I inspect prisons, immigration and police custody as part of a team looking at health provision. Our role is to establish whether services in custody are equivalent to those in the community, and that they meet detainees’ needs. After gathering evidence, I make a judgement on the service and feed this back. I also support HMI Prisons in disseminating good practice by presenting at conferences. I provide input to internal and external consultations to ensure detainees experience good health care.

Most prisons and their health departments have different strengths but face significant operational challenges. As an inspector I need to be sympathetic to the challenges while maintaining a focus on the outcomes for prisoners and taking a pragmatic, balanced view, based on a rapid assessment of evidence. I have learned to make and present defensible judgements by maintaining my own knowledge base, observing colleagues, learning from feedback and being self-aware.

Since working here I have developed better time management and report-writing skills. I have also increased my awareness of the wider context of detention, including human rights and political, regulatory and commissioning aspects.

I like being part of an independent and well-respected process that recognises good practice and drives improvement. I have particularly enjoyed experiencing different settings, including immigration removal, police custody and prisons that hold women and young people.