Rebirth of the Northampton Lunatic Asylum

One step forwards – 888 steps back.

Have a read of this announcement to build a new hospital for people with mental health, autism or learning difficulties in Northampton. It is on the site of the old Northampton Lunatic Asylum.

So, so much wrong with it, it’s hard to know where to start. The CEO of St Andrews (the charity!!!! behind the project) says:
“Our new building will help to meet the increasing demand for mental health services for young people across the country”.

At the very same time that all the great and the good of the disability world are talking about “keeping it local” and helping people stay and build quality lives in their own communities, along comes a new build that is going to be looking for people all over the country.

I have previous with St Andrews. It was one of the places that Hillingdon accepted a tender from back in 2010 for providing a service for Steven. It was to be based at their existing Northampton hospital. I phoned them to discuss the tender and before I could get a word in edgeways, the woman launched into a sales pitch that would put Katrina Pearcey to shame. I could understand about half of what she said – the rest was corporate, PR bollocks. Funnily enough, after I told her that Steven’s case was due to come to court and that there was a huge media interest in his situation, she cooled considerably. And that was the last we heard from Northampton. But reading the press article today and looking at St Andrews website (have a look yourself but have a stiff drink to hand), I fantasise what would have happened to Steven if he had gone there. He would probably still be there, four years later, in a living hell.

There are three words in the release that chill me and leave me furious at the same time.  Read this paragraph –
“It will provide care to young people from across the United Kingdom, and alongside 110 residential beds, it will include a school, sports and therapy areas, and a number of landscaped courtyards.”

110 Residential Beds

All we need to know is in those three words. A home is not defined by the number of its beds. Hospitals perhaps but that has nothing to do with anything “residential”. It does mean that 110 people are likely to end up there, forgotten, open to abuse and with no acknowledgement of the importance of person centred care. They will be patients forever – just like the many patients of the old Northampton lunatic asylum. The CEO talks about a “safe environment” but I don’t see how he can make that claim in an institution so large. In scale, it will be similar to a Sainsbury’s warehouse.

And it’s a charity. I wonder what Sir Stephen Bubb and his breakfast club make of that. When they talk about the 3rd sector providing residential placements with block contracts, is this the kind of thing he has in mind? It sure isn’t hell, the kind of thing that most people would have in mind as a home for the most vulnerable people in society.

Do you think it’s possible to mug an MP and get the #LBBill passed next week? It can’t come soon enough to stop monstrosities like this making obscene amounts of money out of our sons and daughters and family members. If you visit the St Andrews website check out the salaries of the top bods – and weep. My son and your daughter’s life is being manipulated to fund these fat cats. My son and your daughter’s normal autistic response to a life experience is being pathologised with subsequent medication to enable unspeakable wages and bonuses.

Any commissioner planning to send one of their local people to St Andrews should hang their head in shame.

But they probably won’t.

83 thoughts on “Rebirth of the Northampton Lunatic Asylum”

  1. Thank you. We must toughen up and say how dare you to st. Andrews. Our children can only be safe if we stand together. So thank you mark because I am hoping by sharing this we parents will start to say no loudly enough to be hesrd collectively

    1. It’s hard to know what to do though Lori. Anyone of us could suddenly find our sons or daughters placed under a mental health section because the LA or CCG don’t want to fund a home care package. Like with Claire Dyer, they’ll be very apologetic about lack of services in the area and send them off to Northampton for assessment & treatment of something that doesn’t exist.

      1. How can a business or charity claim to be a ‘not for profit’ company when the CEO’s are managing to take a really hefty profit from the money that supposedly is for the benefit of the business/charities recipients?

        How can the LA’s claim to want all their citizens with a learning disability to live ‘in the community’ (reasons given for closing day centres) while at the same time banishing them far away from their homes when they are at the lowest point in their lives? Surely it is at this time when they need their loved ones close to them. Close enough to make visiting easy and achievable.

        I despair at the handing over of our loved ones care to third sector companies, huge corporate companies and any other ‘business’ that sees a money making opportunity to be had off the backs of our loved ones.


      3. I have complained everywhere and got know where so now I’m going to start petition to get evil st Andrews closed down I have a son who is in there now and its has been name living hell for him and our family.

    2. That is a good initiative. I still think you will find that in the large scheme of things 110 beds is nothing compared to the number of children vulnerable at the hands of their families. Work to spread knowledge and community positive attitudes towards people with disabilities. Please stop spreading hate. ♡♡♡♡

      1. In what way vulnerable at the hands of their families? Yes, there are children/young people with and without disabilities who do not receive proper care but the question of what should be put in place instead isn’t all that clear-cut, is it?

        Interpreting our concern about the way decisions are made about what is “best” as “spreading hate” isn’t too encouraging. From your perspective, as someone who is trying to do their best, it may seem like that. But this constant assumption that parents, families, are the problem is what we are arguing against. That it is true some of the time doesn’t mean that it is true all of the time.

  2. young people can have mental health needs but sending them to a big place a long way from home just isn’t right. And so many with Learning Disabilities whose needs aren’t being met and so become distressed, are still treated as if they had a Mental illness. I often think…there but for the grace of…re my sister. She could so easily have ended up in an ATU. But so far she hasn’t. She lives in a small residential care sheltered community.

    1. …………………………carve care downwards into the soft marrow, remove care staff who have known you and you them for years, send a new one each time just for quick shopping, who has no time to talk, if you could understand them and them you, then herd you like cattle around town with people you may or may not know or may not like to places you don’t want to go, and people stare at you because you are dirty and smelly because you don’t know how not to be, because the carer/friend who you knew (and who knew you) for a long time, was made redundant, and who used to help you to wash and shave and laugh with you when you shaved yourself and missed bits…. is gone now and works in Asda, and you are fat from eating ready meals and drinking cola on your own and your trousers are too short and too tight and you cant wear jeans with a belt like you used too and you have jogging bottoms with elastic now like grandad did,….and you are not old…. and when you feel ill no one comes and you don’t know how to do the phone to the doctors,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

      and the scary lady who fills your care form in says you are ‘over dependent’ not sad, frightened and lonely…what you really ‘need’ is something she calls a psychiatrist……………………………………
      True story.

      1. this is the reality of ‘care in the community’ for some. Beyond words, but you have said it. This is now infecting the very good residential care sheltered community where my sister lives. ‘Active Support’ its called. But where my sister lives, all the good stuff happened, since 1978. Including making sure ppl had full lives & did as much as they could themselves. ‘Host’ LA doesn’t want the res care model because of ideology/they can access other funding streams? Many ppl funded ‘out of county’ but this doesn’t mean they are a long way from birth family: so many boroughs abutt in conurbations. Need to start with personal rights..& unlike many I believe we can afford this. But can go nowhere without openness, honesty & transparency from all parties. And we must stop internal factions: supported living v res care for one. All must be needs & rights based, with what is best/most appropriate for person.

    2. There should be community care near peoples homes. There isn’t and that is a fact. No different from someone needing brain surgery and having to be moved across the country to liverpool or across Europe to Prague. Why do people blame the places is beyond me. We should blame CCG and the government.

      1. We are blaming the CCG and the Government, but these charities and private companies are making it all too easy for the government to continue on this slippery trail back to institutions. If the charity instead spent the £45 million on providing local services for people, services that people actually need and want, then we would no longer be ‘blaming’ them, we would be praising them. We know the services are not there and are asking, ‘why not?’ People requiring brain surgery may well have to travel for that operation, but the difference is that they would then have an outcome, an obvious end to their treatment and a return home. Because people are being wrongly placed in these institutions/ATUs (or whatever name they may go under) because they happen to have autism or a learning disability they end up there for any lengths of time under ‘assessment’ with no resulting ‘treatment’ as generally treatment is not what they need. They actually need a home which meets their needs and preferably near the people they know and love and look to for support.

      2. Not everyone needing brain surgery has a clear outcome and prognosis, and the problem stands on the lack of pathways in general to do the best for people in need. Our argument is redundant here. We sound like dogs barking at the sheep when indeed we should be bitting the farmers.

  3. Mark my daughter was kept here for five months your right trying to get her out was a massive struggle. If it was left to the phychiatrist she would have kept her so they could get another £95,000. Out of our CCG. No young vaulnerable adult is safe at St Andrews.

    1. I have a son who is in st Andrews his been there almost three years and its been hell for him and our family calling to everybody support me in getting st Andrew closed down hospital from hell please contact me day or night on 07448784982

  4. Mark, I’ve been following your blog for a long time. I do empathise with you at a similar level, as I am also a carer and have been fighting with services over the past 7 years against psychiatrists wrong diagnosis, easily available medication, and and limited understanding of systemic factors affecting people’s lives.

    However, I must comment on your post today. I fear that your anger is clouding your common sense when reading and commenting about places like St Andrews. I worked for St Andrews for 8 years, and never I’ve seen the horrendous description that you mention and link with your son’s situation. I’ve worked everywhere there from being a kitchen porter, volunteer,health care assistant and assistant psychologist, across all ages and clinical presentations, and always I was asked to work in a person centred way. The atrocities that I have seen in other nhs and community settings, I’ve never seen in the years at St Andrews.

    So far St Andrews is the only place in the UK where I would go as a patient if I needed.

    I’m always in favour of community treatment, preferably people’s own homes with their families. But I hope you are not overlooking the fact that your son has you to show himself love and protect him, but many hundreds of other people, including young people are often rejected by their families at the first sight of problems. I’ve seen it all.

    Places like these should not exist, but they do because British society and mentality is rotten to the core.

    We should not blame the place or St Andrews. We should blame the communities for not looking after their own. You are in a dilemma here, this place represents all that is wrong in this country in regards to caring for vulnerable people, but vulnerable people are more likely to be abused at home than institutions like this.

    Steven clearly has you to love him and look after him. My real question to you is what would happen to Steven if you were not interested in him.

    I see it everyday in my job. Families anxious to legally kick out kids out of the house. families who restrain kids and beat them up. families who shamefully hide their children as problems.

    let’s change social attitudes instead.


    1. Of course I’m angry. I don’t think its okay for any person with ASD to be removed from their home and placed in an institution. Even if they have a mental health issue, the con’s far outweigh the pros of them being institutionalised. I don’t understand why you emphasize that Steven has got me to look out for him. Does that mean that its OK and inevitable that someone without family has to live in a place like St Andrews? All the work we are doing on LBBill is trying to prevent that. You’re right about being critical of the ccgs and government but surely St Andrews sees the financial rewards in our children – they wouldn’t build the place if they didn’t expect to fill it with lucrative rewards. Also, I don’t buy into this wholesale idea of families giving up on their sons and daughters. Of course it happens but usually because there are no services to help them – places like this hospital cash in on that. And finally, when Hillingdon wanted to send Steven there, St Andrews were perfectly happy to go along with a contrived mental health section to get their patient – if that happened to us, it must happen to others.

      1. Mark, so you should be angry. I’m angry in my own way, but we are targeting our anger in the wrong way. my question still stands, if Steven didn’t have you around who would look after him. Institutionalisation is NEVER the solution but what is the alternative for people who are alone in the world. I come from a country without institutions like these, but our community unity is far much greater than in the UK.

  5. Mark Ive said this so often what is so terrifying is that they can include learning disabilities and autism under the mental health act. When I was first faced with this I couldn,t believe that anyone couldmisuse the Act in that way. I sat in the Court of Protection for 2 days while they all argued not about whether they could section Martin but how.

      1. On what evidence do you base your statements,and belief that large numbers of families are so ashamed of their disabled children, that they beat them up, neglect them and then legally dump them anywhere – far less huge profit driven institutions.

        Hard facts on your belief please; the figures please, validated evidence please.

      2. Same evidence you’ve got that all people in institutions are mistreated or abused. Please redirect your energies to boycott the government and community apathy. You’re focused on blaming organisations of making profit when it is our government who makes profit out of our stupidity, making us get distracted with small bait when the sharks are ready to attack.

        I hope you don’t forget we are all in the same boat here. whether it’s you,me or people with more disabilities than others, ultimately if our society is fragmented than institutions will rise. I say it again, i would rather be looked after by such corporate institutions that are heavily regulated than being looked after by a dodgy agency staff or money driven family members.

        do you live in a bubble? ♡♡♡

  6. I read about and could not disagree. I could not put better myself.
    My son is in that hell hole. He has been there for 19 months.
    Fighting to get him out. My son is not the same person as he went. My son is not being treated as autistic. He is being treated as mentally ill. And fondamentaly it’s eciensialy it. An asylum. As they are using psychotic drugs on my beautiful son He is no longer the happy lively boy I sent there 19 months ago.
    I fear for my son. St. Andrews should be closed down. Or. It should not offer services of autism. As they do not have the special autism units they claim to have, at least not after the age if 14. My son wen at 18,happy young boy with of course serious challenging behaviours. But none the less he was a happy young man. Now it’s all gone. I haven’t seen my boy happy or smile real smiles of laughter. He slurs his words. Some days he can’t walk because if the heavy dosages of meds. Antipsychotic meds. He cries and begs me to bring him home. He holds my body not to let me go without him. It’s sad that this big man. This people in over quarter if a £million salaries earning it at my sons expense, not to mention the huge cost to NHS for those 5 or more drugs my baby is on. 3 times a day. Highest doses.

    My son Stephen is a boy who has severe autism. But he has a family. A loving caring family who loved him more then anything in the world. I don’t want Stephen to be looked as mentally ill. The people who put him there or the managers there probably are more mental then my baby boy.

    1. My son is in that hell hole now its been a nightmare to get him out the staff are thugs and the doctors lie and over medicate him a prison runs better this hell hole needs to be closed down asap you can contact me on 07448784982 let’s stand together and get our child from out of this hell

  7. Northampton (County) was my patch when I worked for a major LD charity in the eighties and early nineties. I knew the large NHS LD/MH hospital in Northampton very well. I worked alongside many good and passionate LA and voluntary org staff and families and others over the UK at the time. We were trying to understand and dent what we felt/saw as almost medieval discharge systems. There was loads a NHS money swishing about in the eighties,per head following lucrative discharged long stay people. Sites were very very valuable…… and LD/MH hospitals costly to run. I heard the word ‘carpet bagging only too often;. Many very vulnerable people who had spent most of their lives in this hospital, and others in the UK, appeared to us to have little or no choice where they would live or who the hospital/NHS would be paying to care for them, out in the ‘community’.

    There has always been a market for and in vulnerable people. Many over the centuries have been sold and bought like cattle.

    Total Institutions in particular those based on a medical model, shape the lives, attitudes and perceptions of patients and staff alike. All who stay for any period of time become institutionalised,and to some extent can begin to accept and even promote the unacceptable., And sadly, even those with power,, …. gradually lose sight of the real constituents of freedom, humanity and choice.

  8. They are new concentration camps and the people who like them are neo nazis. Look up the definitions and you’ll agree. Hateful

  9. Most people who reply to Mark’s blogs are not spreading hate but are spreading truth. Sometimes the truth hurts Beyondmontenegro. That said I do believe you are honestly stating what you see and are probably correct in some of your views. However there are not enough people working in the care system with your caring outlook. For most people who have reached the time in their lives (whether it be old age, illness or exhaustion) when they have to hand over their beloved son, daughter, mother or father into the hands of strangers, it can be like winning the raffle or getting one of the many booby prizes. Some are lucky and get someone with compassion kindness and integrity, but many many more get the will not care, could not be bothered to care or cannot be asked to care. Some people are fortunate to have their family to speak up for them, but if they are removed from their family and placed miles away what chances are there of the family even knowing what type of carer they are getting? That is why so many parents and carers are insistent on keeping their loved ones close to home. That is why the LBill must be passed.

    As for suggesting some parents keep their disabled family member at home for the financial benefits. What yardstick are you using to measure this. Where is your proof. Are their people out there who get rich on disability benefits? How does having a job, having time for friends and relaxing on weekends doing whatever pleases you equate with washing and dressing an adult, managing meltdowns, watching them slide into mental illness and generally keeping them safe? It does not equate at all in my book. Most carers, no, all carers I know keep caring because they love their child more than they love themselves. Sod the benefits give me a normal life..

  10. Beyond Montenegro – for some reason I seem to be blocked from replying to your reply to me above! I’ve written many times that I have logged with the CoP what I believe to be in Stevens best interests when I’m no longer around – that he is able to continue living in his own home with support. It would be his worst nightmare and would cause him so many problems to end up in a place like St Andrews. He isn’t I’ll. He doesn’t have a mental health issue. He has autism and he cannot cope with sort of mass residential living. I’m getting confused as to what St Andrews offers. On Twitter, their tweetfeed said they don’t take disabled people – just those with mental health problems and people with autism! Bit shocked that he doesn’t see autism as a disability. From their website, it looks like there is a residential arm of the hospital – is that true?

    There’s no doubt in my mind that the government and LA & CCG commissioners should be held to account. But that doesn’t let St Andrews off the hook – I feel they are just as culpable. Their model doesn’t seem to have changed much since the 1870s, so if a place exists, it needs feeding with “patients”. The salaries paid and the figures in their accounts, show that some people are doing very well at our family members’ expense.

    1. The fact that under some circumstances this model might provide appropriate care for some is beside the point. Some people take to a communal model, some don’t. I have heard that some people, struggling with homelessness and the benefit system, find spells in prison something of a relief – doesn’t mean that most wouldn’t regard it with horror.

      My daughter isn’t autistic, but she has some of the need for routine and familiar surroundings. I would have thought that there was an abundance of evidence by now that the kind of assessment and “treatment” Claire Dyer is currently receiving doesn’t work. By accepted norms, some of these behaviours may look like mental illness, but if the treatment is more or less guaranteed to make things worse rather than better, then what? I dread the kind of carers who think they can make my daughter conform – her behaviour deteroriates rapidly, while with proper sensitive care she blossoms.

      What is so very disturbing though is fat cat salaries at one end, no money to pay for staff at the other. Care being regarded as an “investment opportunity” or a route to prestige and high salaries.

      If an opposition is set up between care from a stream of agency nurses in a regulated facility like this, and total neglect in the community, then of course we lose the argument. But that is not the point, is it? For a start, the CQC does not seem to be great at preventing abuse, and there is no reason why community services should not also be regulated – they are, as far as I know.

      There is no reason why a proper system of direct payments/personal budgets shouldn’t be both better and cheaper if the will was there. Multi-million pound facilities are not the only option.

      Most of my daughter’s carers have stayed with her for years; they have been brilliant, and helped a lot. Two of them will need to move on, soon. Finding replacements isn’t going to be easy. Lots and lots of employment agencies set up to make a profit seem to have sprung up – but they do not inspire a lot of confidence. Who is it who is doing the abusing, generally? Parents, families, or the kind of “carers” who should never be allowed anywhere near vulnerable people? Concepts of “care” based in theories that don’t work? Lack of interest, lack of involvement, Leaders whose attention seems to be elsewhere.

      Community care has gone, is going, badly wrong. It isn’t inevitable, or irreversible.

      1. And also:

        One of the things that drives me mad is that this government gets away with a “soundbite” approach to policy making, that makes clear thinking and separation of different, complex problems nearly impossible. Try to find out anything through the media about the Care Act, and the focus is on the problems of the elderly. Linking together mental health, autism and LD is another piece of sloppy thinking that makes rational arguments difficult. I confess I am not knowledgeable about the first of these three – but when did it become an automatic assumption that all three are interchangeable, and benefit from the same approaches?

        Another concern is what happens when a person with LD or a developmental problem becomes 18. The other day, I copied this sentence from a high court judgement:
        .”In most cases, the parents are the best people to make decisions about a child and the State – whether it be the court, or any other public authority – has no business interfering with the exercise of parental responsibility unless the child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm”

        Of course, I wouldn’t want to argue that an 18 year old is a “child”. But, if they lack capacity, why should it be assumed that the State, or the Courts is automatically better equipped to identify best interests on very superficial assessments? And if they have sufficient capacity to know where and how they want to live, how can the State overrule that? In one sense, the power that goes with parental responsibility is a bit terrifying – but this point of view does seem to acknowledge that most parents can be trusted with it. When that is not the case, then least worse solutions may have to adopted. But not on the grounds of cost or expediency.

  11. I have to declare a personal interest here.

    My son is sitting on the edge of 50 years old. He has Down’s and if I do not make it my personal responsibility to stop it, he very likely will end up in a huge privately owned, and only if he is very lucky, shiny bin. No matter he is given own toilet and own shower and lots of drugs to make him unaware of where he is or who he is. if I had the courage to tell him about this, he would beg me to stop it happening. He is a lovely witty intelligent man who is ageing fast now and he will very very likely suffer physically in other ways and worse…plus dementia…soonish?

    It horrifies me to hear anyone defending the use of 100 bed units and or who use negatives to defend anything in relation to this holocaust like slide into the worst of the past. We all know the very good bits and the ‘testing’ bits of being parents; I hit my tall (I am small) now a middle aged academic, 20 year old son, over the shoulder with a broom (I could not reach) for being very very rude to me. The only violence of any kind I have ever used towards anyone. It has gone down in family folk lore as the time ‘when granny hit daddy with a broom’. We can all be pushed just a little too far. …….!! But returning to cold and serious fact, many of us have had much more than others to cope with, and all I am sure of us have been pushed into and beyond our limits,into despair….often.

    I fear and resent negative and dangerous judgements being made to justify the unjustifiable. I fear for my son, being ‘cared’ for by anyone who would use them.

    I was responsible for facilitating a National Development Team of the time, visit/ ‘inspection’ in the eighties. Two inspiring stories (of many)stand out:

    A pleasant and witty father asked if help could be found to obtain better incontinence wear for his 16 year old daughter. He had used the ‘inco’ roll provided to line his attic! In later conversation I learned that when his daughter came home from day care, he and his wife took turns lying on her so that the younger children could be fed and put to bed. They also had to stop her eating her way through her arms. He had not one word of complaint about his lot…apart from the inco role.

    Two lovely late middle aged ladies, clearly close friends, both had beloved ‘lads aged 35. Each son was blind and deaf and profoundly learning and physically disabled, and at home. The day centre had stopped storing the huge boxes of incontinence wear and they could not move in their small houses for falling over/bumping into these boxes – delivered in quantity. They wanted to know if they could come in smaller loads and boxes. No other request. Neither would have used violence: exhausted and tested to the brink as they must have been, they had each other…. and they had a common pride, love and grief for their son’s.

    It is my responsibility… stop bad things happening to my son;

    We cannot slide back, We must not slide back………………..into a cynical, justified, marketed, trade in…………………inhumanity.

  12. I think Beyond Montenegro is right, in that : a person with autism/LD/mental illness can be without family or without a family who can or will look after them as they should be.Most of our local sevices have been slashed under the guise of “allowing the person to remain at home” (by giving them nowhere else to go). So I drop dead. Where then for my son? He would be lobnely and miserable in the family home and any unexpected gaps in visitors would leave him starving and terrified. I would leap at any good residential accomodation, esepcially if its close to an excellent facility for assessing and treating any conditions he may develop (dementa/mental illness)
    Diagnosis and planning treatment of someone who has a mix of LD/autism/ conditions is very difficult. Mental liiness can be treated, but is hard to disgnose or treat effectlvely when other conditions are present Add, say, dementia and you really need a very skilled assessment, not Ms Snodgrass the support worker and an untrained GP.
    I think there is a huge need for places people with LD/autism can go to be assessed for anything else which could be going on for them, and to have skilled treatment planned .
    However. I have only given the institution in question a cursory glance but I am put off by the size of the thing-it seems to be a vast organisation with a very big remit. While I can see that its better to have all your best most skilled clinicans i the one spot (I would rather take my daughter to Great Ormond Street for her complex physical condition rather than rely on the GP nearby), I can’t see why there has to be such a very big residential facility taking people from all over the country.
    I am also put off by it being a private company-and so subject to the pressures of making the most money possible out of people. who are terribly vulnerable.

    1. I agree Sally

      Good residential care in a sufficiently funded small local ‘warm’ units with continuity of access to the best of: long tenured, committed, well rewarded and competent and kind carers, and clinicians….. all poised to listen….. is an ideal. How many of us could sleep easy for the first time in a long time if we were shown and guaranteed, (in letters carved in stone) such a thing when we are no longer.

      Go through the list and tick of the bits that are no longer (or have never been) available to our sons and daughters, now……..or is slipping away like ….snow off a dike.

      My son has never been on mental ill health drugs of any kind, but he has been offered them as a prop for shocking treatment and neglect and/or as a cure for grief and anxiety about losing important to him, paid people and routines.

      I have worked over a number of roles in Mental Health, none as a clinician. And I have dear friends who suffer from chronic and at times acute episodes of ill health. I have met the best and the rest of clinicians in this field over the years. Patients and psychiatric clinicians alike, admit that psychiatry is even today …….a ‘black art’.

      The best clinicians and clued up and when ‘well’ patients, work together and by trial and error are continuously seeking the best solution…… and the least toxic drug.

      Add autism and learning disability and mental illness and the ‘law’ to the mix of the worse of all the above… our world today.

      1. What we all need to sleep at night is the idea that safe, reliable, continuous care will be available. But the problem we are now having to grapple with is does “residential” care guarantee that? Like you, I am at an age where it is a continual preoccupation, a constant anxiety.

        Given that I know how central her home is to my daughter, I have never been able to convince myself that ANY form of communal living would work for her. Of course, as with anyone else, if there are other, medical needs then it might be the only safe option. But on the grounds of cost and convenience? As the only option? Not an easy problem to solve.

  13. I choose to share my life with two people who happen to have a learning disability and I also choose to support them to have a life of their choosing. I refuse to call them or hear anyone else call them a ‘service user’. They are my equals and valued citizens in their own right. I am constantly frustrated by the very system that is there to serve them actually colludes against them when they promote ‘holding’ services. Services that just contain them for the day, night, week ….. ‘But they all love bowling’.
    The re birth of large institutions is the way it’s all going I’m afraid… Very afraid…. For the rights of people with any disability.

  14. The thing is, that with residentai accomodation as with a day centre, any one of us could sit down right now and design something good! No matter how severe/complex the needs of the people the service was designed for.
    Any one of us could come up with a good plan-and I am guessing it would not involve a vast insitiution, but smaller, well staffed places which provide care, dignity, privacy , meaningful activities, happiness and so on.
    And we would all agree on the qualifacations and personalities of the staff, staffing numbers, supervision, and suitable appalling and personal legal consequences for any staff member falling short. Oh, and a panel of parents and carers meeting regularly to review and inspect the facility.

    1. Utopia Sally, but how I would love this utopian dream to become reality. Sadly this dream would be hijacked by the LA’s PR men before it got off the ground. First of all the panel of parents and carers would be called ‘experts by experience’ and then ignored. (You have got a fancy title what more do you want?) Then the LA would insist that the charity/organisation that tendered for the work had the best website with the most convincing bullshit on it and also offered the cheapest quote. That is how it is done I’m afraid. If by chance anything untoward happens to any of the service users they will insist that the safeguarding board is involved. This procedure then ensures that the company and LA are exonerated and the lying service user and their carers are sent on their way.

      1. Bad things happened to my son in very recent years. The person who manipulated and neglected and by repeated criminal acts put his life and remaining mobility at risk,..was not fired. It has taken 2 more of my shrinking life/years, before ‘very serious issues proved/agreed by agency and LA’.

        The carer was not sacked and as far as I know is still employed by the agency.!!

        I have asked LA over and over and have had no answer at all to: when and how often was this contract (commissioned by LA) monitored? Were safeguarding involved and what was the outcome ? and were the repeated criminal acts put before police?

        I have had long waffley letters admitting ‘serious issues’ from LA, but not sniff of an answer to these questions. I am certain that: never/nil, no and no would have been the honest answers. I had irritated and pompous (first letter took five months) responses, then a month ago a ‘final’ ‘this is the end of the matter’.

        If we families were engaged as full partners, in the safe guarding and monitoring processes
        we would not only have more leisure time, (from being ‘it’ …and permanently on duty doing all this monitoring and chasing)….. we could all sleep more easily.

        But….there is still the law and Freedom of Information Act. More ever shortening years thrown away?

      2. You are quite right! I love the groovy but meaningless title for the parent/carer group.
        It would be easy to design a day respite or residentai centre which was well run, didn’t cost the earth, etc as above. I forgot to say we’d need the powers of, say, Stailn to enforce standards.

  15. As the parent of a son with a diagnosis of aspergers and schizophrenia my experience of St Andrews differs in the main from most of the comments. My son’s life was wasting away through the mire of his mental illness, staff at nhs mh hospitals at best attempted to ‘manage’ him. Since he has been at St Andrews (2 years) we have witnessed his personal development and coping strategies, for the first time in years he has begun to engage with us, his family who he blamed and have now become part of his support, is surely every parents dream. Since Enoch Powell in the 1960’s took down the old asylums nothing has been put in their place. Community living can be ideal if the person is able to live at least semi independently, sadly for people like my son this would be a nightmare. St Andrews has given him a place to be, to become, and to grow, and I am testament to that.

  16. I am on leave over Xmas but have been at St Andrews f9r 2 years and they still don’t think I’m ready to leave. That says a lot about their (lack of a) therapeutic programme because I am much calmer and happier at home with my family – 2 and a half hours from the hospital. They say that I struggle to make friends and I’ve asked them to test that theory by taking me to visit my existing friends rather than wondering why I struggle to connect with others who have less, or at the bery least different, cognitive and communication ability than me. Because of my ability, staff often fail to understand or accept that my disability is significant too. They have one standard for other patients and another for me. I want to be on a level playing field, plus with people I can genuinely connect with and much closer to my family. Having found an inspirational role model on TV, I have learnt more from her than I have from St Andrews

  17. hi. Can anybody please let me know if they have been a patient in St. Andres, Northampton as my 18yr old granddaughter is due to be transferEd there on Tuesday, I really worried by all the comments as I was told it was the bes Mental Health Unit in the UK, btw we will have to travel a 2hr journey to visit her. Thank you.

    1. I’m trying to get st Andrew closed down need support from everyone who has been a patient at the hospital or have a relative been there its a hell hole we can all shut it down please call me on 0744878982 thank you

  18. I used to be a service user at St Andrews hospital 82 billing road Northampton LOOKS A beautiful place on the outside with Lovely gardens and bowling green And Reminds me like a huge big mansion with a very posh reception hall bit behind the beautiful scenery Is hidden .I was a service user on Smyth ward a learning disability Ward Above John claim unit and Geoffrey Hawkins unit was on the bottom floor we where on the top floor over looking the car park..I was a inpatient on Smyth ward a adult learning disabilities ward..I and many others suffered years of abuse Being hit kicked having my hair pulled having my feet Pulled all the way down the Corridor carpet by my feet suffering carpet burns .OTHER service users had their Own kNee discolocated. We Had a seclusion Room on Smyth it was only used if Patients where aggressive But more often than not Many nursing staff where aggressive to us the patients would deliberately start to Kick us or slap us or Laugh at us when a member of the nursing staff slapped kicked or punched us for a laugh ..It Happened a daily occurrence I think staff often got board and loved the action of just Causing trouble so in upsetting service users deliberately just for fun..But A lot of us suffered years of abuse hidden from our own families Hidden from Outside Hidden from public view that place had years of hidden history of abuse ..I Suffered in the hands of Bad treatment ..Bad abuse from Female nursing staff and the odd male one..THAT place shouldn’t be still open it should have been closed down ages ago..Everyone knew that abuse was taken place but not one person did anything about it where is the Protection for service users to some of the staff we where easy targets something to pick on for fun..I went through five years of living he’ll and torture as a service user in that place I was meant to get the help and the best treatment out their It was a very expensive place to be funded by My local NHS In Birmingham and Warwickshire ..BUT the only treatment I got was years of torture abuse and bullying From the hands of Nursing staff and many of the other patients on my ward that I was in Also where abused the same as I was ..a lot of it was hidden..My parents still don’t know about it because I was scared of the consequences later if It ever got out I was terrified in telling anyone Hidden Hurt years of Institutional abuse ..that wasn’t a Top hospital it was a hospital where abuse happen on most wards ..Yet everyone Knew about it Who workedtheir but Not one hospital boss or manager did anything about it.I was their fifteen years ago ..Shame on you at St Andrews hospital thanks for destroying my entire life and WRECKING OTHER PEOPLE’S LIVES all St Andrews is is a hospital that abuses People ..CLOSE IT DOWN DON SEND YOUR SONS OR DAUGHTERS TO THAT PLACE or your mum or dad or your aunty,a and unckles or Grandparents …As a patient You are always at risk Esspecially when it is still going on …Shame on you St Andrews hospital

    1. I was there, in the adolescent wards below you, from 1996-1999. We heard about, and experienced, similar. I have many traumatic memories from that time; sometimes I share them but feel so removed from them I fear that I am not believed. The irony is that myself, and many of my fellow patients, felt “safer” there than we ever had at “home” (most of us from abusive families and/or care) and it felt like that fact was exploited somewhat.

      No one ever complained officially about the staff. We felt powerless. Some staff, however, encouraged us to officially complain about each others behaviour – more often occurring as a result of staff actions (or inaction). Pitting us against each other to cover up the the inadequacy was of “care”.

      Being there changes you; its legacy is lifelong.

  19. We did complain But We didn’t get belived SAFE PATIENT RESTRAINT THE STAFF USED ON ALL SERVICE USERS WAS ALWAYS FACE DOWN RESTRAINT WE HAD OUR hands put in a arm lock with our Wrists bent back so bad the pain was excruciating AGONYour Heads where pushed forward and About six to eight staff would frog march us in locks USING SAFE PATIENT RESTRAINT TO SECLUSION THEIR WOULD BE A BLUE CRASH MAR they would put u face down on the blue Gym crash mat Pull your trousers down often with make staff present and put a painful injection in your back side then they would bend your legs and each member off staff would do a one by one realise and go our the room banging the locked seclusion room shut and bolting it sit so you couldn’t get out. THEY HAD A ONE WAY WINDOW IN THE OFFICE THEY COULD SEE U BUT YOU COULDNT SEE THEM THE FLOOR WAS A ORANGE COLOUR COLD HARD CONCRETE ORANGE COLOUR WITH A BROWN BENCH TO ONE SIDE OF THE ROOM AND CREAM WALLS WITH A TINY WINDOW Further up the wall and AND BRIGHT LIGHTED ROOM sometimes you where locked in their for hours and hours. .With no drink or food When I was in seclusion their was no toilet When They Had seclusion Fifteen years ago Not one seclusion room at St Andrews hospital had any toilet IM NOT SURE NOW IF THEY HAVE THEM NOW as I’m now living in the community The hospital itself On. It’s brochure stated it was the best private psychiatric hospital in Britain. WITH its Bowling Green and beautiful landscaped gardens and Golf course at the back of the hospital grounds and leasure centre swimming pool Jacuzzi SAUNA Gymnasium POOL ROOM Tompkins cafe Chapel in the grounds and work bridge Who would even think How a fantastic hospital Where prince sess Diana once opened Spencer ward and famous people like Frank Bruno was a patient their for also the rich and famous could also harbour a very dark secret indeed abuse of the service users. IT had a long history behind closed doors of abuse but If u complained Then we as service users paid the price Of being violently attacked by the nursing staff who where meant to look after us help us Not batter us Blue Not to drag is by our feet like sack of potatoes down a carpeted corridor Not to hit kick punch or pull our hair But this is exactly what did happen it happened to me and every single service user that was on Smyth ward back then fifteen years ago. that hospital was like the panaroma Hospital investigation Winterborne view scandal That brought tears to my eyes as what those poor service uses had at Winterbourne view we had the same treatment at St Andrews hoSpital In Northampton Exactly the same bad abuse treatment as what went on also at Winterbourne view. I have autism spectrum disorder so have a very good photographic memory yet I was diagnosed with schizophrenia at St Andrews hospital but Found our years later I had been misdiagnosed that hospital should be investigated and a public enquiry should be started and all of us on this blog should get to speak out publicly about what went on at St Andrews hospital Northampton because We Did try to speak up in their but where silenced By violence I have been deeply affected and traumatised by mental health services But that was the worst psychiatric placement I have ever experienced in my entire life as a inpatient The place needs to be permanly closed down and knocked down in Memory of Those that died in the hands of the evil cruel sick nasty wicked nursing staff who I don’t even doubt for one minute our probably still employed at the hospital or some other psychiatric hospital doing the same thing to some other poor service user .THE staff didn’t care about their service users all they cared about was torturing us all. I hate St Andrews hospital It’s a number one abuse scandal That has been going on for years hidden from view Yet what Person is going to actually do about it As so far it’s still open As usual that place is evil forget sending anyone their As they could end up dead from the treatment or killed by dangerous AntI psychotics or Killed from violent abuse from staff or just suffer In silence from daily beatings and torture. THAT place wasn’t the philosophy of care and compassion. It was a hospital where staff where free to control and abuse service users That’s what St Andrews hospital was a place where We got abused paid by NHS primary care trusts back in them days Now partnership trusts who funded our care so we could be abused by People we thought could help us get us better And more independent actually all they did was abuse us

  20. ST Andrews hospital wasn’t a charity Fifteen years ago it was a private hospital and often the NHS sector would fund service users to be their But when I was on Smyth ward back then it was not a charity it used to be a private pychiacrtic hospital

    1. I have worked in care for 19 years and currently work at St Andrews.

      Although I feel and totally understand the views of most explaining they do not see why Andrews needs an ASD or LD units I have to disagree and say yes they do. What others need to realise is that the biggest majority of the patients we have with ASD young people and adults are under a forensic section. Have commited crimes of rape, assault etc. It’s not that simple just to say ” we shouldn’t have those units”.

      To also state that the facility’s are not ” specialist ” units is wrong. They are. I have a huge 10 year career with young people with ASD. I am fully trained and have worked with very diffficult and quite frankly dangerous young people with Autism that have in the past badly assaulted me. I am not stating either that all people with ASD assault but others do. Sometimes their behaviour is so extreme and violent that other care packages in the community wont accept them as some residential homes won’t due to their behaviour. Andrews is one of the few places that will because under a section a patient can be managed easier if violence and aggression occur on a regualr basis.

      I am one of those people who care with a person centered approach and passion in to do the best I can

      I have been assaulted twice badly but still go back as I realise that these people need help not persecution. Without Andrews nearly 800 patient’s would be in jail not the community as their behaviours would not be accepted in the community.

      I understand the tale of your son and I do feel for you but I do also feel that andrews is getting some awful comments said about it as a service. Yes, of course it makes money but it also spends money. In my personal view I get looked after as a staff member and also the patients do. We have weekly outings for dinner and shopping. Days out to seaside. Sessions with gym instructors and beauticians paid for, not to mention education classroom sessions and alot more.

      Last week young people requested a games console and it was bought without question.

      Please try not to paint the whole of andrews and the whole of its staff the same way. It saddens me because unless you actually work there full time like I do on some of the most toughest wards 24 hours a day you cannot have a full 24 hour insight.


      2. I seriously wonder if this is the same st Andrews as I know? Considering it holds some crazy level system working on negatives and not positives. Then how do these weekly outings take place? My Son has been there for nearly 1.5 years and has hardly left the ward let alone gone to the seaside. When on lower levels the patients can’t leave the ward so if they have done something ‘naughty’ do they get to stay behind when you go out for dinner?

  21. I also forgot to add of course there will be patients there more suited to be at home but when there have been incidences at home where parents are not coping and there is no suitable placement in residential then what happens. We leave those parent’s to struggle?

    Sone of the patients I have worked with were not suitable to live in residential homes due to the other residents being vulnerable because of that patients behaviours. Also home life is breaking down because of the strain. Aggression and violence isn’t being treated at home… So where to???

    Hence why Andrews is available. I see there are comments from prior patients here saying there is history of abuse or violence or staff didn’t understand… What about the staff.. I care I always try my best.

    I’ve been punched, kicked genuine assaulted sine times for just trying to care. There are two sides to every story.

    We def need to be directing this passion at government etc not at St Andrews.


  22. I have also been to St Andrews and many other similar ATUs around the country. When you work in a place like that, it is difficult to see it for what it is and have an objective view so I do not wish to criticise the commenter above but this is NOT how others see St Andrews.
    The first time i went there I was taken through the luxurious main entrance and after going through a series of locked doors, and declining standards of decor, we eventually got to the learning disability wards that reminded me of episodes of Prisoner Cell Block H. They were desperaely awful and depressing and immediately showed where the priorities of this organisation were.

    The people i was working with to get out of there were there because they had committed a crime but that did not make them dangerous. An example was one man had grabbed a woman’s breast in the street and was arrested for sexual assault. He had autism and his family, with the intention of helping him, had taken him to prostitutes to have a sexual experience and he had learned that it was perfectly ok to grab a strange womans breast. He needed good support in his community, not a spell in an ATU. He stayed there for years because he lost his flat by being in hospital and social services did not know how to support him. The psychiatrist at St andrews kept him on a section because there was nowhere to go but they told him it was because his behaviour was still bad. the man was confused and bewildered. This was not an isolated case. Peopel are there because of ignorant and/or incompetent professionals and to support a business model that makes people alot of money whether they are in the profit making business or not
    St Andrews is one of the worst of the many ATUs that i have visited and its most recent report from CQC was poor. The first time I left there, i was so overwhelmed by the awfulness of it that all i could do was sob. The man I talked about pleaded with me to get him out of there.” I’m scared of this place” he said. He now lives back in London in his own flat with good support that costs a fraction of the price. his behaviour worsened there because it was a shithole.
    I have no doubt that individuals working there are good people but please don’t try to defend something that is indefensible and use your positive energy to work for what people actually want and need.

    1. I am using my positive energy to look after the people in there WHATEVER reason they are still in there for wether it is because it’s right or wrong.

      ST Andrews is inspected ward by ward by Cqc not as a whole. Yes I understand the high up people calling the shots are earning rediculous money.. For all we do as frontline workers we should be getting that not them, but all the slanderous comments about it being a shithole and whatnot will not change anything.

      It’s not St Andrews fault that gentleman with ASD was refferred there… Under being arrested and being looked at under the MHA they are contacted because we provide services under that umbrella…Look instead at parliament, law,his care workers, and I mean social workers/case workers etc at the time it happened. It could have been this gentleman could have ovoided being put under the Mha if the support had been put there in the first place to support/educate about why its not socially acceptable to grab a member of the publics breasts.

      Again another example of over stretched and not enough funding for community support. People with ASD do have behaviours that are deemed socially unacceptable so these kind of behaviours should have been flagged up as a possible risk to him and others when being placed in the community.

      It’s hard not to become somewhat upset when awful things are being upset about the place I work because however you try to make it look like its the corporate side and rules you are attacking it still reflects on us as frontline workers.

      I agree that some people are there and could be somewhere more suitable. I agree some workers are not person centered. I agree that it’s more business these days.. (90% of andrews funding is from the NHS…) but making derogatory comments on here will not change anything… Try putting your passion into a letter to the commissioners.. Local MPs instead of just writing comments here and feeding an already negative comment section.

      Andrews works for alot of people alot it doesn’t… Just like every other provider or service

      Service provider : yes.. As Cqc calls it. As they also calls St Andrews. Services are a business… Just like other big name ” charities “.

      1. I have put every ounce of my energy for the last 4 years into closing these parasitic services and focussing on good services in communities. I don’t blame the people that work there, i blame poor commissioning but the fact is that these institutions feed off poor commissioning to maintain their business model. If the term ‘shithole’ offends you, i am sorry but I refuse to call it Assessment & treatment when it is not and i refuse to deny the experience of many people and families that end up wrongly in these places for politeness’ sake

  23. Whoa! You are saying that St Andrew’s houses 800 people ‘mostly’ diverted from the criminal justice system, people who are pathologically violent and/or rapists?

    Have you *read* what was done to Steven before his Local Authority attempted to get him admitted to St Andrew’s? How he was treated in a way that couldn’t have been better calculated to make him anxious and defensive, and that the behaviours this provoked were then misinterpreted and used to try to have him permanently incarcerated? You can bet your bottom dollar that Steven would have arrived at St Andrew’s labelled as one of those ‘diverted’ ‘violent cases’, and it would have been as much of a Big Fat Lie then as it is now, yet he would probably have been stuck with the label for life. A label that would have had every chance of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. How many of St Andrew’s current residents will have had similar experiences?

    There are so many better ways of helping people to live safe and fulfilling lives than sticking them in a mass institution whose environment is everything that is stressful and triggering for them. Questioning the labels would be a good starting point.

    Whatever good work may be done in St Andrew’s, (and I am sorry to hear that you have been injured trying to follow best practice) it does not detract from Mark’s main point, which is a structural one. If you have 800 places for violent rapists but can’t find 800 violent rapists to fill them, you will take on people who are ‘just’ violent, and then people who are violent only if provoked or not really violent at all. You have to, or your facility becomes uneconomic. But very few people with neurodisabilities develop them overnight as adults. So much better to start planning and developing individually tailored living, probably close to home, when the person is a child, not waiting until they hit a developmental crisis in adulthood and then shoehorning them into whatever is available, no matter how inappropriate. I can’t think of anything more inappropriate than taking someone who is finding social interaction and negotiation of group situations difficult, and sticking them permanently in a collective-living environment with 799 alleged potential violent and/or sexual offenders, however well-intentioned the staff of those ‘residential beds’.

  24. I WAS IN St Andrews hospital Northampton I wrote something above already ..Email at end 2014 above ….I had a diagnosis of Schizophrenia on smyth ward …I was on section three at the time & I did not even have a criminal record ..Just because someone is admitted to a forensic hospital does not mean they automatically have a criminal record ..I’ve been misdiagnosed twice Once with Schizophrenia then when I left to Borderline personality disorders then last year I was Rediagnosed with autism spectrum disorder low functioning ..I was in Smyth Fifteen years ago.It’s a he’ll hole alright ..Yes it’s is like Cell block H I agree with that ..I’m married now I’ve been married for Ten years ..Living at St Andrews hospital was the worse experience of my entire life ..Stop hiding the fact abuse didn’t take place ..Because I was a inpatient on Smyth ward learning disability ward for five years and I was abused so was all the other services users on the ward ….I knew exactly what went on ..That place is like Winterbourne view but ten times worse

  25. I have recently been a patient at St. Andrews (Berkeley close, ground floor) as I have a history of self harming and unstable hydrocephalus requiring frequent hospitalisations. To start on a positive note, I met many wonderful staff members whilst in there. I can’t stress enough, how good the majority of the staff I came in contact with were. There was however serious shortcomings with the place. For one, it is like being in a prison. All doors are locked, even going to the toilet requires a staff member to first unlock the door. Patients with very different problems are all mixed together, that is a huge problem to start with. I was a very high functioning patient, and I am articulate with a great family (my sister happens to study medical law so she was a godsend). Some patients however (well as I have since found out, the majority) have criminal history’s. All the others in the ward were on a ‘section’laq the staff really struggled to get their heads around the fact I was an ‘infirmal’ patient. This equated to no freedom for me (as the others could not have any) and I was literally locked up. Many patienrs uffer with aggressive behaviour and it was many times, a frightening environment to be in. Some patients cannot speak properly and make noises (getting louder and louder!) or communicate in very unusual ways!. All that mixing patients together like that achieves, is frustration and resulting bad behaviours. I was once caught between two patients having an outburst and thumped, how this can be considered a ‘safe’ environment is beyond me! The disorganisation in Berkeley close was shockingly bad. Things are not kept together for patients, I had to go around for days collecting up my belongings from every nook and cranny. Each patient should have their own locker, and ideally be given access to the key themselves. If that isnt possible (over fears for safety etc) then at least the key should be labelled and kept in the front office where staff can access it easily. Almost every item handed in to staff, was lost at one point or another during my 3 month stay. Some have been there massively longer than that, how many of their belongings were ‘misplaced’?. Eventually I had my mum provide me with small labelled boxes so that all my items (I.e. shaving items and nail scissors) could be kept together and not lost! After prompting staff, they did get used to placing my things in my box. After that, I felt a huge sense of relief that i would see my things again! Staff remove certain items (cotton buds would you believe! amongst many, many others!) so actually, them then subsequently losing your items, is tantamount to stealing. It is not just the value of the items but the principal itself, if you have to hand something over, it should be given back to you when you leave. Laundry is also appauling for losing items. Now, (i had only been there a short time when the next issue occurred) i am largely well continent (despite 67 brain surgeries and two lengthy comas) but i had one episode of bedwetting during my stay. My clothes were not labelled (as there hadn’t been the opportunity by that point) but it was absolutely insisted that I send my top and trousers to the main laundry service. (My mum would have quite happily washed my clothes at home as wet clothes couldn’t go into the ward machines) The clothes were gone for so many weeks that eventually a member of staff took me to laundry to try and identify my missing clothes. We couldn’t find them (they did, many weeks later appear on my bed!) This is unacceptable. Other wards had similar problems with labelled clothes going missing. Lawrence (charge nurse at Berkeley Close) told me that the other ward had started putting in an item by item list, with photographs, into the bags being sent to laundry. Berkeley Close needed really to do the same. A key go my room would have been a godsend as staff were often too busy to open the door. I got around this problem by stiding a pillow case under my door to prevent it closing fully, but still giving the appearance of being locked shut. (The appearance of being locked was very importan, as one of the patients would just walk into other people’s bedrooms, rifle through their belongings and pour tea on the floor) I received no counselling on the issue that actually started all the rubbish off (self harm). I was however given my ‘safety plan’ which included things like talking to staff if feeling stressed (yeah right they were far too busy!) and listed the behaviours staff could watch for, as a sign I would self harm. This was my treatment. I did do many assessments of memory (surprisingly bottom 0.5% of population) and cooking sessions. Whilst these were enjoyable (and gave me time away from the others) it didn’t really address fundamental issue around self harm. Everything they told me I already knew. (Knowing something and actually doing it are two different things!). After the incident where I was hurt, and also for other reasons I mentioned, I decided after 12 weeks that I couldn’t stick it anymore. Leaving was like leaving Fort Knox!. Suddenly everyone was interested and wanted to assess my capacity etc. I genuinely feared I may be held there (despite only ever signing up to come in for a couple of weeks) forever! Discharge is definitely not something they like at St. Andrews. All the spiel they give, talking about reintegration into the community is rubbish! Everyone be warned. Do not go into St Andrews!!!! It is living hell and some nice staff do not make up for the torment you will suffer. I hope this helps someone else, if my social worker had done more research before committing me, and told me honestly what I could expect, I NEVER would have gone there! Not in a million years!!!!!

  26. My son is in st Andrew today you are right in every thing you say its a hell hole and a fight to get him
    His been there 3 years he nearly died twice I’m trtying to build a case against them its just a living nightmare


  27. My son is in this hell hole st Andrew Northampton its the worst place in the world my son has suffered for 3 years staff and doctors lie to keep patients in hospital even when they are well enough to go home its a living nightmare I’m trying to build a case against this so called hospital I need support from everyone who has suffered by the hands of this horrible place I would like to do a petion to close st Andrew down if you would like tho support me in this call me on 07448784982 than you


  28. My daughter has just been discharged from this hell hole I agree a petition needs to be started and This Asylum and it still is one closed.

  29. I WROTE On this blog as an hodgson about abuse we all had on Smyth ward ..I WAS DIAGNOSED AT THE TIME WITH SCHIZOPHRENIA AND A LEARNING DISABILITY but Since I left that dreadful place I’ve been diagnosed with ASD And told I had been misdiagnosed by St Andrews hospital ..For all you still Andrews staff who try to paint a wonderful picture of the place ..Alot of deaths have occurred at St Andrews hospital Northampton even when I was at St Andrews hospital on a learning disability wars st Andrews hospital Northampton I was on section 3 and I Had never committed any crimes ..Section 3 is a ordinary mental health section ..Not all of us had a criminal offence Just some people ….So get ur facts right as Not everyone has a criminal offence who gets admitted to that place. .St Andrews hospital Northampton is like Winterbourne view scandal ..The Hospital at St Andrews hospital admitted a cover up regarding how many patients DIED on ant pychotics drugs like clozapine it had caused alot of deaths at St Andrews hospital ..CQC found alot of failure s at St Andrews hospital Northampton .
    IT IS A shit whole

    SO DON’T U DARE say It’s a good hospital Or its for people who are only criminal s as not all of us who are admitted have ever committed any crimes ..THE ONLY CRIME THEY HAVE IS A LEARNING DISABILITY .

    locked up to be abused ..most the staff on Smyth ward where abusers .
    I’m Writting a autobiography About my experience at St Andrews hospital one day the truth will really come out .
    THAT PLACE IS THE WORST PLACE IN HISTORY ALL PROFIT MONEY MAKING SCAM forget Safe care in that place ..PATIENTS who are violently abused get aggressive it’s a known factor their behaviour gets worse ..On Smyth ward yes patients got aggressive only after a member of staff had deliberately assulted them first ..Shut the place down ..

  30. Reblogged this on finolamoss and commented:
    Let 2016, be the year St Andrews, Northampton,is closed down, or, at least, only used, after thorough independent investigation of its deaths, and practices, if required, as absolutely necessary under the MHA for short stay treatment.

    Read its history, and, most importantly, the latest comments from its patients, and families,

    And see my posts of the huge salaries, of its bosses, ie the chief executive alone, earned £375,000,and received a £725,000 pay off.

    This is a charitable body, that pays no tax, and receives 98% of its income, from the public purse of the NHS. On average £4,000 per week, being paid to treat a patient.

    We have a government, that has made mental services the ultimate cash cow.

    And, is intent on treating, brain injuries, the learning disabled and autistic as mentally disordered.

  31. ASD in the DSM of mental health disorders has now changed its legal classifications on Autism..Autism spectrum disorders. .Come under developmental disorders & are not now classed as a mental health disorder ..Just thought I’d clarify that .If you all Google Autism in the DSM book of Mental disorders it actually now tells u what the latest new definition is ….I currently wrote three blogs on this site already as Abi hodgson 2014 ex service user on Smyth ward abuse of service users ..I’m hoping to get my new autobiography Finalised & published next year Behind Closed doors ..The truth will eventually come out ..St Andrews Hidden secrets will finally be told ..If we all stand together as one we can finally have that Charity Shut down but we all have to stand together as one ….contact me on let’s set a petition up ..IF we all want this to happen to save everyone else who is locked up in that living he’ll of a shit hole we all need to Come up with a plan to fight back to save everyone else who is living in that dreadful place ….WE can do it ..St Andrews staff have absolutely no idea How to care for anyone. .They are not fit to work in places like that..FAMILIES & Services users are not spreading lies Or hate we are spelling out the truth what actually went on at that dred full place. .WHY So we can protect other people from abuse & get justice for everyone who has suffered from abuse at the hands of Staff who only job it was was to abuse and not treat ..THE only treatment we all had was Mostly abuse ..I think on Smyth ward out of all the staff the was only one kind and caring staff nurse on that ward she happened to be my namedaughter nurse But the rest of them where evil. .The cleaner was friendly too ..But the rest of them acted like a prisoner officer carrying their big black radios It was like a movie Sean of prisoners cell block H but actually really Life . IT’S known if a member of staff acts cruelly towards a service user or godes that person or Tries to wind that individual up or Says horrid & hurtful Things towards that vulnerable person or Physically assaults them then it would make that person lash out back wouldn’t it ..But mainly it was the staff on Smyth ward who where deliberately Goding a lot of vulnerable people & also Causing trouble as well as Trying To Get people wound up & some did attack patients In full view But I never did see any member of staff report it to management ..Then when a service user lashed out back or tried to defend themselves the staff would pull their black pits that they had around their wastes to sound the alarm then the ward sister Would punish the service users by having them dragged into seclusion ..IT had happened to all the service users it didn’t just happen to me ..They did that to us all ..One service user Had their knees dislocated …I might be a bit thick now but I’m not stupid ..That is not safeguarding that is abuse .It was the worst ATU private hospital I’d ever been in ..I’ve been in some other ATU units to but one was Horrendous My second one i was in in another part of the UK. THE staff in my second ATU unit Didn’t abuse us or hit us they didn’t even Have a seclusion ..Like st Andrews & we certainly where never attacked either ..Yet my second ATU unit the staff where lovely kind and caring ..& some of them from my second ATU unit worked in my care home I was in which was really nice ..The staff in the second ATU unit Nursing staff I’m on about Where nothing like the staff at St Andrews They where kind caring and thoughtful. .They where learning disabilities nurses and mental health nurses just like st Andrews hospital But they didn’t abuse me or hit me or attack anyone. YET they where totally different from St Andrews ..So if that Second ATU I was in in a different parts of the country in south Yorkshire why couldn’t have st Andrews hospital have been like that

  32. I watched channel 4 dispatches under lock & key st Andrews hospital abi2014 as I’ve commented a lot on this above blog regarding Smyth ward …NOT everyone in forensic units have comited a crime I’ve not got a criminal record ..I was on section 3 ..I’m now on section 117 aftercare in the community …living in my own bungalow plus I’m married….What ex patients & families & parents ofor patients still in their is honest & true accounts of what had gone on at St Andrews hospital ..It’s a he’ll hole Winterbourne view take two ..ST Andrews hospital Northampton & that Winterbourne view hospital are run exatly the same they shut Winterbourne view down so what’s different about shutting st andrews hospital down as well.NHS is broke so why not invest more in community services more supported smaller groups homes with staff onsite or assisted living with base staff rather than fund millions of pounds into institutions like st andrews hospital it Causes more psychological long term damage in service users alike who have been placed their against their will & deprived of their own liberties What service users should need is smaller assisted living apartments with base staff where each service users have their own flat with bas staff for extra support my husband is currently in one of these at the moment he Leeds a far better life thsn being stUck in a institution ….Big fat cats are getting a lot of money for each service users why not shit st andrews hospital down and reinvest in smaller assisted living independent living with base staff support in small individual flats firstly this is a lot cheaper & secondly it teaches people to live independently ..with base support ..for cooking cleaning shared lounge helping people to access the community ….I institutions like st andrews hospital don’t improve lives they infact make people’s lives much worse it didn’t improve my life one bit ..It made me institutionalised and now im unable to function in the community because I remained stUck in various big hospital institutions right across the country so now in the community since ten years ago I’ve not progressed I’m still in that same situation classed as institutionlised

  33. Hi Mark- Thank you for writing this. My mother was in the ‘old’ St Andrew most of her adult life,(21) Initially incarcerated for the theft of ten shillings from a Gas Meter and Non payment of a provident loan in the 60s. I was placed into care, a few months old and adopted. I met my mother after 29 years of incarceration. At that time. almost all of t Andrews Ex patients had been rehoused into council flats, not far from the old post office. Many had been incarcerated for years! There was NO support for them after the closing of this hell hole and I heard many stories that made me weep at the abuse they continually suffered behind closed doors. I ‘knew’ my mother fore 5 years before she passed. The tales & memories she shared were vivid and horrendous. I am shocked & appalled to know that this facility is re open. I am supporting currently two families who have loved ones in hospitals run by Cygnet Hospitals. This is the petition to have one young woman moved nearer home. Her story is in the comments of this post.

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