Ashworth Hospital is a high-security psychiatric hospital at Maghull in Merseyside, England. It operates on behalf of Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, catering to patients with psychiatric health needs that require treatment in conditions of high security.
Following the death of a patient in 1988 and a series of other serious allegations, a Committee of Inquiry into Complaints about Ashworth Hospital, Merseyside headed by Sir Louis Blom-Cooper was set up and published its findings in 1992. Blom-Cooper was highly critical of the regime which was felt to be more custodial than therapeutic. 7 staff and 2 managers were relieved of their duties.
In 1997 a patient absconded from a day rehabilitation trip in protest against his treatment and the management of the Personality Disorder Unit. The Fallon inquiry was established to investigate the allegations and reported in 1999. As a result of the Fallon Inquiry, a review into security was undertaken by Sir Richard Tilt who recommended that security be upgraded to that of a Category B prison.
Ashworth is one of the three high-security psychiatric hospitals in England and Wales, alongside Rampton and Broadmoor, that exist to work with people who require treatment due to their "dangerous, violent or criminal propensities", with the majority experiencing psychotic conditions such as schizophrenia, comorbid or other personality disorders.[dead link] It is managed by Mersey Care NHS Trust. Ashworth currently has 14 wards.
A wide variety of pharmacological, rehabilitative and psychological treatments are available.[dead link] Rehabilitative and creative activity is supported with patients frequently entering work for the Koestler awards winning 27 prizes in 2011. In collaboration with The Reader Organisation reading groups have been set up in which staff and patients read literature together, promoting confidence and developing communication and other skills.
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