Ely Hospital was a large psychiatric institution near Cardiff, Wales which closed in 1996.
The institution was established in 1862 as a Poor Law Industrial School for Orphaned Children. The school moved to an adjacent site in 1903, and its original building was then used as a workhouse under the Board of Guardians for accommodating mentally ill, mentally defective and chronic aged and infirm patients. In 1930 control of the institution passed to the Public Assistance Committee of Cardiff City Council. From the establishment of the National Health Service in 1948 it was designated a Mental Deficiency Institution and Mental Hospital and administered by the Whitchurch and Ely Hospital Management Committee. From 1965 it was transferred to Cardiff North and District Hospital Management Committee. It was closed in 1996.
The hospital was the subject of an inquiry set up by Brian Abel-Smith into abuse of patients in 1969 after allegations about pilfering and ill-treatment were published in the News of the World on 20 August 1967. This was the second of many Official Inquiry Reports into National Health Service Mental Hospitals. The report, written by Geoffrey Howe is still referred to within the NHS as containing important lessons. It went beyond the events at Ely itself, to look at the whole system and the way in which people with "mental handicap" - as it was known at the time - were treated within the NHS.
Studies of such enquiries find a similar pattern of events and responses to them. Typically the institutions are isolated and inward looking. Staff are afraid to complain about poor practices and if they do complain they are often not believed. The patients involved are generally people who are not easily able to complain. The reports rarely give voice to the patients.
The Ely Hospital report is regarded as significant in the development of services for these patients. It led to the 1971 white paper Better Services for the Mentally Handicapped and the first inspections of such services.
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