THE NUMBER of prisoners with tuberculosis has more than doubled in the last year, writes Jason Bennetto.
Penal reformers fear that jails may soon become breeding grounds for the disease and that Britain may suffer an epidemic similar to the one in the United States. The Home Office has told prison doctors to look out for the disease among new inmates and advised staff to take precautions. Details of the increase have been highlighted by the Prison Reform Trust, whose concern was sparked by a woman inmate in Holloway prison, north London, who was diagnosed in February 1993, four years after being jailed. After complaining repeatedly about pains in her chest and coughing up blood, she was transferred to nearby Whittington hospital.
Cases of TB in jails in England and Wales dropped from 22 in 1988-89 to 11 the following year, but rose to 13 in the following two years, and to 28 in 1992-93. Sir Donald Acheson, the Prison Service's Director of Health Care, has described the increase as 'particularly worrying'.