The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published a joint report with HM Inspectorate of Prisons regarding social care in prisons.
Their report showed a failure to plan for the future needs of the rapidly growing population of elderly, ill and frail prisoners.
CQC said: “Many older jails are ill-equipped for prisoners in wheelchairs, or with mobility problems.
“Some prisoners struggle to wash and look after themselves, others cannot get help during the night. The quality of care is inconsistent.
“As the prison population ages, they are more likely to develop new conditions while in prison.”
The health watchdog said local authorities must now assess prisoners’ care needs and there are some improvements.
However, some prisons showed good practice and there are many caring staff and fellow prisoners.
The report found troubling evidence from individual prison inspections, which were developments in social care in prisons only relate to current levels of needs and there are wide variations in social care services between prisons.
The report also concluded there was no comprehensive national strategy for the provision of social care in prisons.