Carstairs high security mental health hospital in Edinburgh is
considering moving patients to English hospitals or changing the
layout of its own facilities because of a shortage of medium secure
units in Scotland.
Carstairs’ chief executive Andreana Adamson said the plans are
being looked at so that the hospital complies with the Mental
Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003.
One option the hospital is considering is moving its perimeter
fence so some buildings fall outside it and are then classed as
From May 2006, people held in maximum security hospitals will be
allowed to appeal their status and be transferred to medium secure
units if ruled appropriate by the mental health tribunal. If health
boards do not comply with this, patients receive compensation.
Adamson said: “These are two options we are looking at as part of a
contingency plan for the existing estate, but I have no idea
whether that would meet the requirements of the tribunal as we
don’t know what next May will bring.”
However, if nothing is done it is likely hundreds of patients would
be eligible for compensation as there is only one medium secure
unit in Scotland, and three new planned units are unlikely to be
built in time.
Donny Lyons, director of the Mental Welfare Commission, said there
were “significant” numbers of people held inappropriately.
“This means that if the situation stays the same or gets worse
there will not only be people held inappropriately but those that
need high security settings could also be prevented from getting
in,” he added.
Meanwhile, the MWC has warned that the Scottish executive’s
decision to move the commission from its Edinburgh offices to
Falkirk at the end of the year could damage its ability to monitor
the introduction of the new Mental Health Act.
The executive said the move would distribute public sector jobs
around the country. But Ian Miller, chairman of the MWC, said it
would mean the commission was moving offices at the time the act
was coming into effect, diverting its attention from monitoring its
“The decision is not cost effective and its timing will adversely
affect the quality of the service we provide and inevitably lead to
a significant loss of staff expertise,” Miller said.