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Broadmoor Hospital invites the public 'inside the walls'

19 January 2012

It’s now possible to see inside Broadmoor Hospital and listen to staff describe what happens when a patient is admitted. In the lead up to the Hospital’s 150th anniversary next year, West London Mental Health NHS Trust, which runs the Hospital, has developed a film to promote wider understanding of its work. It’s available to view now on the Trust’s website.

The film reveals a number of different perspectives on life at the Hospital. Staff from each professional group explain how their work contributes to reducing the risk patients present, and to their recovery. Patients share what brought them to the Hospital and their experiences of being treated there, which nowadays involves an average length of stay of just six years. Patients’ families also have a part to play, sharing how their impressions of the Hospital changed once they had visited their family member and had seen their health improve. In both cases, their roles are played by actors, though the words are their own.

Kevin Murray, Clinical Director at Broadmoor Hospital, says: ‘We hear from visitors to the Hospital all the time how different the reality is here from what they expected as a result of the myths that surround the name and misleading media coverage. We wanted to dispel the myths and show anyone who’s interested that we are an open and accountable institution whose work is about healthcare, not punishment. We hope people will watch the film and see us and our patients in a different light.’

Although it’s part of the NHS, the Hospital is one of three high secure mental health services in England, which is why security is such a central feature of its operation. The film explains that while there’s a physical element to security – walls, locks and so on – and a range of procedures and checks, the key to a secure service is the quality of relationships between staff and patients. Staff invest much time and effort in building trusting relationships with the 200 or so men who are treated there at any one time, so that they feel part of a community. The aim is to create an environment where therapies can make a difference to complex, severe and enduring mental health problems, and so, reduce risk.

Although the fabled clock tower and gatehouse often used to depict the Hospital are nowhere in sight (now in a disused area of the grounds), many of the other original Victorian buildings do feature. The Trust is currently waiting for the Department of Health to confirm a long-awaited redevelopment. If successful, proposals for this will see purpose-built facilities developed for safe, clinically advanced and cost-effective mental health care, while the old listed buildings will be ‘reincarnated’ for another purpose.

Kevin Murray says: ‘We live in a vastly different world from that of 1863 when Broadmoor Hospital was built. We reflect advances in healthcare as best we can – we’re a world leader in research. But it’s well documented that these lovely buildings are no longer fit for purpose. This film marks a time in our evolution when we want to be as open and clear as possible about why we’re here and what we do, so that everyone understands our role in making society and the rest of the mental health system safer.’

The film can be viewed at:



Contact details:

Lucy McGee, Communications Director

T. 020 8354 8847, E.

Paul Wastell, Deputy Communications Director

T. 020 8354 8737 E.