Ashworth Hospital completes hat-trick of near maximum security ratings

Press Release from Mersey Care NHS Trust

For Immediate Release                                                                  6 May, 2015

Ashworth Hospital completes hat-trick of near maximum security ratings

Ashworth Hospital has continued its run of near perfect scores in a national audit for its security measures as one of the country’s three high secure psychiatric hospitals.

Managed by Mersey Care NHS Trust, Ashworth Hospital in Merseyside achieved a score of 99% in its annual National Offender Management Service (NOMS) audit, which followed scores of 98% in 2014 and 99% in 2013.

The accepted pass rate, set for the Department of Health, is 90% and during the audit all aspects of security are considered, including physical measures such as CCTV, access controls into the secure site, as well as escorting visitors, monitoring patients as they move around the secure area, and searches of patient areas and possessions.

The hospital remains part of the NHS but must comply with strict security procedures comparable to a Category B prison standard. The range of problems experienced by patients includes various mental health issues as well as personality disorders, all of which require treatment in conditions of high security.

Joe Rafferty, Mersey Care’s chief executive, said: “While Ashworth is not a prison, it has to comply with equivalent security levels to make sure the hospital environment is safe for patients and staff.

“For the past few years the team have been scoring a close to perfect result, which is great assurance, but also a lot of hard work.

“These results demonstrate that as well as patient care, public safety is at the forefront of what we do and gives assurance that our security measures are of the highest national standards.”

Ashworth Hospital, situated in Maghull, near Liverpool, provides 215 beds for men. The majority of patients now come from prison, the court system or from another secure unit, but all are referred there because they present a grave danger to themselves and or other people.


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Editor’s notes:

What is Ashworth Hospital?

It is a high secure hospital, one of only three in England and Wales. The majority of patients at Ashworth Hospital come from the North West, West Midlands or Wales.

Our vision is to be a centre of excellence for high secure care - protecting the public by providing a safe, secure and therapeutic environment for patients and staff.

Not all patients who are referred to Ashworth Hospital are admitted. Each person being considered for admission is assessed for suitability by a panel of senior clinicians. Once admitted, some patients only stay at the hospital for a short period, while others stay for many years – the average length of stay is just over six years. Patients remain in the high secure service until they are safe and well enough to move to a medium secure or other unit.

The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) audit process focuses on the NHS Safety and Security Directions 2011 for High Secure Hospitals and reports to the Policy Lead for High Secure Hospitals for the Department of Health. The accepted pass rate for the Department of Health is 90%.

What is Mersey Care NHS Trust?

It provides specialist inpatient and community mental health, learning disability and addiction services for adults in Liverpool, Sefton and Kirkby. It has a wider role too, providing medium secure services for Merseyside and Cheshire, and high secure services covering the North West of England, the West Midlands and Wales

From 2013- 2014, Mersey Care offered:

  • Care, treatment and support to 36,401 service users (35,525 in local services and 876 in secure services)
  • Is dispersed across over 32 sites both of its own and premises rented from others
  • Had 674 inpatient beds (as of 31 March, 2014)
  • Had 522,757 outpatient attendances and contacts