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Powering HMPPS' and NHSE/I's pioneering Telemedicine Expansion Programme


Since 2004, His Majesty's Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), part of the UK's Ministry of Justice, has been responsible for the delivery of correctional services across England and Wales, working with people going through the Justice system from the first point of contact, right through the completion of their prison sentences and eventual reintegration into the community.

The Solution

Exponential-e's existing relationship with HMPPS as an MSP and presence on the Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) made them the logical choice to expedite the deployment of Telemedicine across the English prison system. Once the final business case for the project was approved, Exponential-e were formally invited to serve as the technology provider, following a thorough analysis of their capabilities and experience during the procurement process.

At the outset of the project, a dedicated Security & Governance team was established, all of whom had deep experience of the security and data standards that were key to the MOJ's and HMPPS' rigorous security requirements. Working closely with HMPPS, this team ensured that all elements of the following standards were considered and applied throughout every stage of the deployment: 

HSCN HMPPS Information Security Standards
NHS Data Standards Cyber Essentials Plus
NCSC Cloud Security Principles ISO 27001

Dell laptops and Microsoft licenses were set up in-house by Exponential-e and provided for healthcare staff across English prisons, equipped with the tools needed for SystmOne access, as well as Visionable video conferencing software and the Breaking Free Online treatment intervention. The solution was fully secured with multiple leading-edge cyber security solutions, including strong identity and access controls, 2-factor authentication, and full encryption for all mobile devices, ensuring they could be used on-site without presenting a security risk.

With this foundation in place, healthcare staff were able to book consultations with community practitioners for prisoners, which would then take place via video call from a dedicated room, to enable and facilitate access to critical services and support.

In addition, in a small group of prisons in the north of England, the Breaking Free Online treatment intervention was integrated with the IT platform to pilot this computer-assisted intervention for those with an identified need.

The success of HMPPS' Telemedicine project demonstrates technology's potential to optimise health and social care, and the speed of innovation that can be achieved in collaboration with a trusted technology partner. A business case has already been submitted to expand the new IT system further into prisons across England and Wales between 2022 and 2025, as part of the Spending Review 2022. A decision by the Deputy Prime Minister on whether to support this further expansion is due imminently.

Plans are also in development to further integrate prison healthcare with other care, support, and rehabilitation services across recovery communities, allowing people to easily access a range of resources to help their rehabilitation, including mutual aid support networks and webinars with former prisoners who have since turned their lives around.

The resulting opportunities to develop support systems and services to better promote health and wellbeing, including recovery from drug and alcohol dependence, are tremendous. This IT-based solution is a perfect example of the ongoing evolution of working practices, which it is hoped will produce better outcomes for those in need.

Solution benefits

  • Successful delivery of critical healthcare services in English prisons, as part of the COVID pandemic response
  • Strengthening engagement between prison and community services pre and post release
  • Expanding access to recovery-orientated support networks
  • Creating hope and optimism that recovery and rehabilitation is possible and does happen
  • Full compliance with all applicable regulations regarding the management and protection of healthcare data, overseen by a dedicated Security & Governance team
  • Expeditated deployment of hardware and software to enable effective video consultations across the prison system, including Microsoft licensing
  • Robust cyber security and access control for all physical devices, in line with prison security standards
  • A fully managed solution, via Exponential-e's Flex Manage programme, with 24/7 access to a UK-based service desk
  • Effective integration with physical security infrastructure, to maintain established processes
  • A holistic, end-to-end model for the delivery of critical health and support services for prisoners

The confidence we had in Exponential-e and the support they offered, alongside approval from HMPPS Information Security and the MOJ Digital and Technology team, meant that we were able to commit to delivering the Telemedicine programme within the required timeframe - as ambitious as it was - which was a great achievement

Michael Wheatley Drug Strategy and Delivery Team - Transforming Delivery in Prisons, HMPPS

The Challenge

Telemedicine refers to the remote delivery of healthcare services and support, utilising a range of communication platforms, with the aim of optimising the accessibility and availability of such services, regardless of where clinicians and patients are based. Such services must be delivered in full compliance with applicable regulations around the handling of health and social care data, which requires close collaboration between healthcare organisations and their technology partners.

HMPPS, alongside NHSE/I, had been exploring the potential advantages of Telemedicine within the prison system for some time, latterly in support of Government policies such as From Harm to Hope - a 10‐year drugs plan to cut crime and save lives (December 2021) - and the Prison Strategy White Paper (December 2021). However, the onset of COVID-19 and the need to protect both prisoners and staff meant that the deployment of the Telemedicine Expansion Programme was expedited across English prisons.

We're radically rethinking the way we use technology and winning the hearts and minds of frontline practitioners across the whole system. And it's the patients who'll benefit most.

Soleil White - Drug Strategy & Delivery Team - Transforming Delivery in Prisons, HMPPS
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