The future of Britain's high security hospitals

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.314.7094.1622 (Published 31 May 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1622

Primacy of patients must be re-established as sole reason for hospitals' existence

  1. Raymond F Travers, Consultant forensic psychiatrista
  1. a Ashworth Hospital Authority, Parkbourn, Maghull, Liverpool L31 1HW
  2. b Prison Officers' Association, North Regional Office, Leeds LS10 1BH

    Editor—Elaine Murphy's editorial on the future of Britain's high security hospitals, though historically informative, naively focuses on the need to oust the Prison Officers' Association in order to facilitate changes in both the culture and values of Britain's three special hospitals.1

    The fundamental role of special hospitals is to treat mentally disordered offender patients who present a “grave and immediate danger” to the public. It is not unreasonable to argue that the patients we currently care for in special hospitals could be cared for elsewhere. Indeed, the government's 1994 review of high security services came to just such a conclusion.2 It is the lack of ownership of such a radical vision that is the most important impediment to change. It will not be easy persuading the myriad interested parties that the special hospitals must reconfigure themselves. The agency responsible for brokering this development is the High Secure Psychiatric Services Commissioning Board, which is yet to announce publicly its …

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