Prisons across England are set to be virtually connected to local hospitals for health and care services through secure a video system.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have signed a deal with health tech company Visionable to allow prisoners to securely speak to consultants remotely.

A secure version of Visionable’s system was rolled-out to a prison in March to provide prisoners with specialist video consultations under the supervision of the prison’s medical team.

The programme is now being scaled up and deployed to 114 prisons and young offender institutions, 15 secure children’s homes and five immigration centres.

Alan Lowe, Visionable chief executive, said: “Virtual ways of working in healthcare have quickly become more urgent since Covid-19. But they are also a key means for transforming how people interact with their healthcare professionals in the longer term.

“This particular project, envisioned before the coronavirus pandemic, is an important expansion of how the NHS has been using remote video technology to transform pathways, and will result in significant efficiency and security gains for organisations involved.

“But it also demonstrates how clinicians can be brought to the individual, regardless of their location. If used in the right way, remote technologies provide significant opportunities to bring services to individuals in a more convenient way and in ways that can improve access and equity in healthcare.”

Access to the service can only be obtained through a remote key held by the prison’s healthcare team. The key provides access to hospitals through a secure laptop that has been configured so it cannot be used for other purposes.