Assurance given over Stratheden security

Stratheden Hospital
Stratheden Hospital

Former patients of the high-security state hospital at Carstairs are being accommodated at Stratheden Hospital near Cupar, NHS Fife bosses have admitted.

But they’ve given an assurance that ‘robust’ measures are in place to protect the public and other patients.

The Fife Herald approached NHS Fife after being contacted by a Springfield resident who raised fears about the patients being accommodated on the village’s doorstep.

He claimed that one patient was so dangerous that food has to be administered through a metal grid in a door to protect staff, while another escaped from the hospital for a short time.

While not addressing these specific issues, Fife’s acting manager of mental health services, Graham Monteith,said: “All NHS boards in Scotland, including NHS Fife, have a responsibility to provide mental health in-patient care and treatment for a small number of patients who have previously been admitted to the State Hospital (Carstairs).

“These patients are now in need of services which support their rehabilitation and equip them with the skills they need once they are discharged from hospital.

“Low secure units are used as a transitional safe environment for some parts of this patient journey.”

He continued: “In addition to robust internal governance arrangements, all mental health in-patient units in Scotland, including those within Stratheden Hospital, are subject to high levels of regular scrutiny by the Mental Welfare Commission and other external public bodies to ensure the welfare, wellbeing and safety of both patients and the general public.“

Worried Springfield residents first raised the issue a year ago when they noticed mesh and electric fencing had been put up on a newly-opened ward designed for low-risk patients.

At that time, NHS Fife denied the measures were anything to do with accommodating overspill from Carstairs, but the fencing was standard procedure and the mesh designed to stop illicit substances being passed into the ward.

Carstairs, which is situated in Lanarkshire, houses some of Scotland’s most dangerous criminals.

Re-built two years ago, it accommodates some 140 patients and employs around 700 staff.

However, this week it was reported that bosses are considering closing a ward to save money, prompting fears that patients with violent histories could be placed in less secure accommodation.