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Special hospitals

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: (Published 11 October 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:949

We received three other letters making this point.—Editor

Special hospitals are not prisons…

  1. Jeremy Kenney-Herbert, Consultant forensic psychiatrista,
  2. Martin Humphreys, Senior lecturer in forensic psychiatryb
  1. a Reaside Clinic, Birmingham B45 9BE
  2. b University of Birmingham, Birmingham
  3. c St George's Hospital Medical School, London SW17 0RE

    Editor—Clare Dyer reports on several important issues that are raised when patients discharged by psychiatrists commit a serious offence.1 In referring to the case of Mr Martin Mursell she seems to have confused the very different roles of prisons and special hospitals. Mr Mursell is reported to be “serving a life sentence in Rampton special hospital.” Mr Mursell is a patient in Rampton Hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983. If he was convicted of murder and given a life sentence then he would have been transferred from prison to hospital under sections 47/49 of the Mental Health Act 1983 for treatment, but not to serve a life sentence. When such a patient no longer fulfils criteria for detention in hospital then he or she is returned to prison to serve the remainder of the sentence. …

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