Letter: Society needs special hospitals

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The Independent Online
Sir: There has been much debate about the role of special hospitals for the mentally disordered and the main emphasis has been that in modern day society there is no place for them ("Sorting mad from bad", 26 March).

What is noticeable is the lack of discussion about an alternative to closing down the special hospitals other than placing patients in regional secure units, which, incidentally, have a much higher recidivist rate on discharge than that of special hospitals.

The Matthew Trust, celebrating its 20th annive rsary this year, has been fully involved with the four special hospitals in this country and we believe that the closing down of special hospitals would be a very inhumane step. Special hospitals create a therapeutic environment for the seriously disturbed in a secure setting which cannot be achieved in any other form other than putting such people in penal establishments where the quality of care, as has been admitted by the Department of Health, is 50 per cent poorer than that in the National Health service.

Not only does this Trust believe that special hospitals should be retained and given further financial assistance but we also believe that a further two special hospitals, based on the Broadmoor model, should be established. Special hospitals should be developed as a good example of humanitarian concern for the seriously mentally ill.

PETER THOMPSON

Director

The Matthew Trust

London SW6

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