Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group (GDWG) working in partnership with the Strategic Public Law Clinic (SPLC) have released a new report The Right to Community Equivalent Healthcare in Immigration Removal Centres: A Public Law Analysis of Systemic Issues in the Inspection Regime.

Anyone who is detained by the state is entitled to receive health care which is equivalent in quality to that enjoyed in the wider community. For many years there has been a persistent and consistent concern about the quality of healthcare in immigration removal centres (IRCs), but the findings of statutory inspections have tended to find provision to be satisfactory.

This report asks whether there are systemic elements of the inspection scheme which inhibit its ability to apply the community equivalence principle. Drawing on work undertaken by the SPLC between January 2020 and November 2021, it makes comparisons between the scheme used by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to quality assess community healthcare provision and that adopted to respond to the overlapping responsibilities of the CQC and His Majesty Inspectorate of Prisons for inspecting healthcare in IRCs.

Its recommendations call for fundamental reform not only to operational processes for gathering and analysing evidence, but also to the underpinning regulations which currently prevent the CQC from applying a ‘community equivalent’ approach.