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Report - The former Ashworth Hospital (South Site) vacant since 1995 - Jan 09



Alley

Conspicuous Loiterer
Regular User
#1
The former Ashworth Hospital

Moss Side House, built as a private home in the 1830s, was a convalescent home for children
from the Liverpool workhouses but by 1878 plans were already being prepared to turn it into
accommodation for 60 men and 120 women of "the epileptic harmless lunatic type".
Although it did house the occasional tuberculosis patient and epileptic it was not until
30 years later that plans for a new 300-patient hospital were finalised.

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The Mental Health Act of 1959 brought in sweeping changes. Abolishing the statutory
distinctions between mental illness and mental deficiency, it outlined for the first time
the role of Ashworth,*one of the three "special" hospitals in England and Wales, along
with Rampton and Broadmoor, that would become known as special hospitals for people
who required treatment under conditions of special security on account of their "dangerous,
violent or criminal propensities". Ashworth was formed from the merger of the old Moss
Side Hospital and Park Lane Hospital, opened as a Broadmoor overspill unit in the early 1970s.

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"Mental defectives were created by the Mental Deficiency Act of 1913 and abolished by
the Mental Health Act of 1959. They often arrived at their diagnosis of mental deficiency
via extreme childhood adversity and institutional care or the courts. In 1920 there were
about 10,000 mental defectives in institutions in England and Wales; by 1946 that number
had grown to nearly 60,000 with a further 43,000 under statutory supervision in the community.

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There were two institutions for "violent and dangerous" mental defectives: Rampton near
Nottingham and Moss Side near Liverpool.*Usually the inmates of Rampton and Moss Side
had been transferred from other mental deficiency institutions*and the violence and danger
often consisted of self-harm, suicide attempts or window smashing."

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"Seclusion should be used as a last resort and for the shortest possible time and should not be used
as a punishment or threat, as part of a treatment programme, because of shortage of staff or where
there is any risk of suicide or self-harm."

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"95 per cent of homicides are not committed by psychiatric patients. The risk of being killed by a
stranger with psychosis is around the same as that of being killed by lightning - about 1 in 10 million."

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"People had knuckledusters. Weapons were openly displayed between visiting parole patients and patients on the ward."

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"The hospital was adapted to receive soldiers requiring treatment for nervous disorders during the First
World War. It was renamed the Military Red Cross Hospital, Moss Side, and on December 7, 1914 received
20 shell-shocked patients -*the first of 3,500 to be treated there during and after the war."

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