Rampton Secure Hospital

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Rampton Secure Hospital
Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust
Location Rampton,
Care system NHS
Hospital type Specialist
Emergency department No
Beds about 390
Speciality Psychiatric hospital
(secure mental hospital)
Founded 1912
Website nottinghamshirehealthcare.nhs.uk
Rampton Secure Hospital is located in Nottinghamshire
Rampton Secure Hospital
Location of Rampton Secure Hospital in Nottinghamshire

Rampton Secure Hospital is a high security psychiatric hospital near the village of Woodbeck between Retford and Rampton in Nottinghamshire, England.

It is one of only three high security psychiatric hospitals in England, alongside Ashworth Hospital near Liverpool and Broadmoor Hospital in Berkshire.


Rampton Hospital houses about 400 patients[1] who have been detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 under the criteria of "mental disorder" (any disorder or disability of mind).

Rampton Hospital has a staff of about 2,000 and provides the national services for patients with a learning disability, women and deaf men requiring high security care. It also provides services for men suffering from mental illness and personality disorders. The hospital has an 'Enhanced Personality Disorder' unit[2] originally opened in 2004 as part of a national pilot for 'Dangerous and Severe Personality Disordered' men, the Peaks Unit, which is the only remaining service of its kind in Britain.

About a quarter of the patients have had no significant contact with the criminal justice system, but have been detained under the Mental Health Act and are considered to require treatment in conditions of high security owing to their "dangerous, violent or criminal propensities". Others have been convicted of an offence by the courts and either ordered to be detained in hospital or subsequently transferred there from prison. Among admissions criteria is the requirement that patients must present a "grave and immediate danger" to the public.


Rampton Hospital opened in 1912[3] as an overflow facility for Broadmoor Hospital in Berkshire. The grounds occupy a former large common known as "Rampton Field".

Housing for the staff was built mostly in the 1920s and 1930s. There were several football pitches, a rugby football pitch, a cricket field, shop, staff club/pub, disco, library, tennis courts, free indoor heated swimming pool, bowls club. All of this was built for the staff; the housing was rented and only available for the staff. Staff had to leave the houses when they retired. This ended in the 1980s, and residents were allowed to stay on in the houses after retirement. In the 1990s staff were given the right to buy their houses from the Crown. Houses were then bought at a discounted rate depending on how long the resident had worked at Rampton: the longer, the cheaper the house was to buy. This staff housing area is called Woodbeck (to be distinguished from a nearby village called Rampton).

On 22 May 1979, Yorkshire Television broadcast an exposé programme titled Rampton, The Secret Hospital, showing the routinely severe mistreatment of Rampton patients by staff. A groundbreaking look inside the hitherto secret world of a 'special hospital' it has been cited in a "top ten"[4] of television programmes which occasioned intense public debate and engendered far-reaching effects upon its subject area, and it was awarded an International Emmy.

A follow-up television broadcast a few weeks later reported that its immediate effect within the hospital had so far amounted to a few scapegoat prosecutions while the status quo had continued largely as before, except that no staff member could trust another not to be a whistle-blower. An inquiry under Sir John Boynton was set up; the report in 1980 was critical of the hospital's management structure making a total of 205 recommendations.[5] Through the next 20 years, reforms to mental health service provision and the philosophy of care within institutions led to a more openly scrutinized environment and patient care became subject to higher expectation and more rigorous inspection.

In the 1960s and 1970s the Woodbeck estate was maintained by groups of patients who worked with staff to cut grass, trim hedges and undertake other gardening tasks. The staff club saw performances by famous singers and comedians.[6] In 1977 a party was held to celebrate the Queen's silver jubilee.

Further housing, known as Kellor Court, was built around 1980 but proved unsuccessful due to poor quality and was demolished around 2000. The 1980s also saw houses demolished in Woodbeck to make way for staff car parks, and open ground between the entry gate and the nearest hospital buildings was built over with an additional housing estate for staff.

From around 1985 to 2000, various changes affected staff; for example, uniforms were abolished and staff lost some of their amenities and social clubs such as the shop/post office, swimming pool, sports day gala, pub, disco, video/film club, cricket pitch, bowling green and club. Woodbeck consists now of a few houses privately owned and some still rented. A creche was built for childcare. Around the estate are many carparks and grassy areas with old apple and pear trees; these are all that remain of the gardens of the 1920s houses that the staff vacated in the 1980s for demolition.

In February 2000, Rampton Hospital was awarded a Charter Mark award. This government scheme was designed to both reward excellence and encourage constant quality improvement. The scheme lays emphasis on the quality of service provided to users; in Rampton Hospital this includes not only patients but also visitors and the general public.

The "special hospitals" of Broadmoor, Rampton, and Ashworth were formerly administered directly by the Home Office and thus outside the National Health Service (NHS). In April 2001, Rampton Hospital became part of the new Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust. The Trust provides mental health and learning disability services including:

In May 2008, a group of patients lost their High Court battle seeking to overturn the rule banning patients from smoking within the hospital.[7]

Major developments at Rampton Hospital recently include the David Wilson Unit, for National High Secure Learning Disability Services which opened in 2011.[8] A new training building named the Mike Harris Centre has been constructed, named after the consultant forensic psychiatrist who leads the forensic division of Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust. Rampton celebrated its centenary in 2012 with the installation of decorative "100 years" flowerbeds and exhibitions describing the history of the hospital with "then and now" photographs.

Notable patients[edit]

  • Beverley Allitt[9][10]; who killed four children and attacked nine others when working as a nurse at a Lincolnshire hospital in 1991.
  • Peter Bryan[11], who murdered three people in London between 1993 and 2004, eating parts of their bodies after killing them.
  • Bruce George Peter Lee, who in 1981 admitted killing a total of 26 people in a string of arson attacks.[12]
  • Charles Salvador, who was jailed for crimes including armed robbery and who has since taken inmates and prison staff hostage.
  • Mark Rowntree[13], who in 1976 admitted murdering four people on a killing spree in West Yorkshire.
  • Thomas McDowell, who in 2002 murdered German rabbi Andreas Hinz in North London.[14]
  • Ian Huntley, who murdered two 10-year-old girls at Soham, Cambridgeshire, in August 2002, was sectioned at the hospital for nearly two months after his arrest, but transferred to a mainstream prison on remand after being declared fit to stand trial. After he was found guilty of the murders, it was revealed that he had initially been sectioned under the Mental Health Act after dribbling and refusing to speak throughout police attempts to question him immediately after his arrest, only for psychiatrists to conclude that he was not mentally ill and had merely feigned madness in an apparent attempt to evade justice.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]