Shake-up for secure hospitals

Click to follow
FRANK DOBSON, the Health Secretary, will today announce a shake- up of Britain's three high-security hospitals in response to the publication of a damning official report.

The 600-page report of the two-year Fallon inquiry into allegations of paedophile activity, drug and alcohol misuse, the availability of pornography and financial irregularities at Ashworth hospital, Merseyside, will be released today, highlighting serious management failings.

The inquiry, led by retired judge Peter Fallon, QC, was ordered in 1997 following claims that an eight-year-old girl had been smuggled into the hospital and that inmates had abused young patients on the wards. The alleged problems were centred on the personality disorder unit.

The former health secretary Stephen Dorrell set up an inquiry, following claims by Stephen Daggett, a convicted sex offender who absconded during an escorted shopping trip to Liverpool.

Daggett, who is now housed in Rampton special hospital, near Nottingham, told the inquiry at Knutsford Crown Court last year that drugs and hard- core pornography were secretly sold inside the hospital and a near-naked girl was given a piggy-back ride by a convicted paedophile.

A senior doctor at the hospital told the inquiry that she had been aware that a girl was visiting a convicted child-killer, Paul Corrigan, but had given instructions that the visits should be supervised by nurses.

But consultant psychiatrist Dr Zona Crispin denied having knowledge of the same child spending time with convicted paedophile Peter Hemming.

The panel heard sworn statements from more than 100 patients, staff, medical experts and union representatives. In July, the hospital's chief executive Dr Hilary Hodge, who had been in post for only 10 months, left citing "irretrievable" disagreements with her staff.

The Fallon team is understood to have drawn up more than 50 recommendations. As a result, Mr Dobson is expected to instruct managers to impose much stricter regimes at Ashworth, Rampton and Broadmoor hospital in Berkshire. This is likely to include a clampdown on the use of computers, swimming pools and tennis courts and greater restrictions on family visits.

The Prison Officers' Association said last night that it was important the Government did not send patients with personality disorders - who are not classed as mentally ill - to jail, where there were insufficient resources to cope with them.