Shaun Thomson - Health and Social Care Inspector

I joined HMI Prisons in November 2018 as a Health and Social Care Inspector. I am a registered mental health nurse and prior to joining worked in the NHS for 24 years in a variety of clinical and managerial roles, working extensively with patients in acute mental health crisis.

Throughout my career I have strived to deliver high quality, evidence-based care. I believe prisons can make a major contribution to improving the health of some of the most disadvantaged and excluded individuals in our society. People in contact with the criminal justice system, including those in prison, tend to be in poorer health than the general population and have a greater need for health and care.

Independent inspection is crucial to ensuring that the delivery of care to people in prison is equitable to people living in the community and that healthcare providers are addressing health inequalities which are part of the cycle of disadvantage faced by people in prison.

Every inspection undertaken by HMI Prisons will include at least one Health and Social Care Inspector. During inspections I observe practice, talk with staff, managers and patients and analyse data. Before an inspection, preparatory work includes discussions with heads of healthcare, clinical leads and NHS England/Health Improvement Wales Commissioners, and scrutinising data such as waiting lists, performance metrics, operational policies and quality audits.

Having a clinical background is important as it gives me better insights into the challenges faced by health and social care providers. We work closely with our health and justice inspector colleagues in the Care Quality Commission (CQC) who jointly inspect health and social care with HMI Prisons.

I enjoy the variety of the role immensely. One week I can be talking to prisoners in a high-security prison and the next speaking to a detainee in a police custody suite. Between inspections, my time is spent writing reports, gathering intelligence, forging links with stakeholders and participating in wider Inspectorate work such as thematic reports.

HMI Prisons is a supportive organisation that values the experience and knowledge colleagues bring, and encourages learning and development. I have received excellent support since joining and have learned a vast amount from other inspectors which has aided my personal development.