PRISONERS will be given work placements at one of Scotland’s largest health boards as part of a landmark rehabilitation scheme.
Non-violent offenders, who are reaching the end of their sentences, are to be handed jobs in facilities, catering, or working in the grounds at NHS Lothian to help them gain skills for future employment.
Hospital bosses insist that the convicts have been through a strict vetting process and will not be working on the wards or in jobs where they could have direct contact with patients.
Successful candidates could be given jobs within the NHS at the end of their placement.
It is believed to be the first scheme of its kind undertaken by a Scottish health board.
Alan Boyter, director of Human Resources and Organisational Development at NHS Lothian, said: “The project is designed to help tackle social exclusion and to improve health and we are committed to working with the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) to make this pilot project a real success.
“We have put considerable effort working in partnership with SPS to work out how this scheme will work to make it the very best it can be for our organisation, staff and of course patient safety, social responsibility and wider public health issues designed to prevent people from re-offending.
“We have the support of trades unions and professional organisations and will ensure that staff feel supported throughout.”
Offenders will do extensive training before entering the workplace and they will also be matched with a mentor.
Caroline Johnston, governor at HMP Edinburgh said: “This new scheme will provide opportunities for those people who are nearing release to improve their chances of a positive future with improved health and well-being, employment opportunities and pro-social citizenship.”
The scheme was hailed as a positive step forward by Tory health spokesman Jackson Carlaw, who said: “It’s important that prisoners are rehabilitated back into society. Let this initiative encourage others.”