Accessibility Links
Quick Send CV
Cookies on our website
By continuing to use this website we will assume you are happy to receive cookies as outlined in our cookie policy
Accept Policy

Clinical Team Leader and Hiring Manager for Mental Health Services at HMP Pentonville, Junaid Dowool, gives insight into the culture of prison nursing and provides advice for those who want to be successful and progress their nursing careers.


Since 2001, Junaid has developed his nursing career and worked in several roles including his current post as well as having a background as an Operational Service Manager for Mental Health Services and a Prison Ward Manager. His current position entails running the Mental Health Services of the Healthcare Department for HMP Pentonville in London and managing all the nursing staff that provide healthcare for prisoners.

In this article, he dives into the culture of his organisation and tips for success for new starters at HMP Pentonville:

If you could describe the culture of your organisation what would you say?


In the prison world, there are two cultures. One includes the culture of the prison itself, with the rules, regulations and security. The other culture includes the care that nurses provide to the prisoners. Thus, the overall culture is a combination of both and successful nurses have the ability to provide patients the best care possible while balancing both with devotion and being able to change roles constantly.

What makes you proud to work at your organisation?


The gift of being able to see that unwell patients receive the right care and help patients through their journey is best part about working at HMP Pentonville.

What are your organisation’s or team’s values?


Regarding our nursing staff, we value teamwork, passion, positivity, respect, dignity, flexibility and adaptability. Working in this specific type of nursing is challenging because there are so many variables involved. Nevertheless, it can be a rewarding experience for those who have dedication and work to form relationships with many staff to achieve the best client care.

How does your organisation support professional development and career growth of staff?


We provide support to staff when they need it and for their on-going development as per their CPD. We also encourage them to take on training that we are developing in house to help them provide the best care to patients while developing themselves as well. Some of our training includes Suicide and Self Harming Training, ACCT Training, Clinical Risk Assessment, record keeping, and physical health related training in addition to others. All training we provide is directly impacting the development of staff.

We also include agency staff in reflective practice to improve what we do here, because we want them to have a constructive experience and enjoy the work they do here. One of our frameworks or models that we encourage staff to use in practice is “See, Think, Act.” We strive to build mutually beneficial relationships with everyone who works for us, locum or permanent.

Our staff are praised and when they achieve their goals our organisation congratulates them and encourages them to do more. We want them to know they are supported.

What advice would you give to interviewees or new starters at your organisation?


When working here, they should be equipped to go through the security part and be able to learn the processes and procedures are that are not clinical but important to the role. Essentially adaptability and willingness to learn is key.

Most importantly though, all new starters shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions. It shows you care about the job that you do and want to progress your career and deliver the best care. You should also be professional, be a talented team worker and willing to go the extra mile in ensuring we are providing the best and safest care. If you do all the above, you will be just fine.

What is the job title for the most advanced nursing role in your team and what should someone do to advance to advance to this position or a position like your own?

Our team is comprised of Band 3 to Band 7 nurses. If a nurse is interested in becoming a clinical lead like myself, he or she should demonstrate sound clinical knowledge and be prepared to accept criticism to build oneself and continue learning. I am where I am now because I kept pushing myself and any nurse who shows vigilance, willingness to learn and perseverance can do this too. 


What training or education outside of clinical nursing knowledge should nurses do if they are interested in pursuing prison nursing or another offender health job?


Prisons have different trends in population as related to varying demographics or segments of these including various mental illness as well as other components of a person including gender identity and sexuality. For instance, more cases of dementia are being reported in prisons, so nurses interested in this field should educate themselves on dementia. In addition to this, we also have transgender patients and nurses should also be aware of the issues impacting this community and gain an understanding of how this impacts someone specifically in a prison setting.

If someone has been out of work for a while, how do you suggest he or she get back into the practice?


The first steps a person should take is to make themselves available to speak to a recruiter and clinical staff for updates and to get started. Then, be in line with appraisals and update registration on the NMC through CPD.

My suggestion for anyone who wants to get back into the practice is to, “put yourself out there and demonstrate your wisdom, commitment and skills.” It is never too late to make a difference in the world of nursing.


Email a friend
Add new comment