Rampton Secure Hospital

From Asylum Projects
Jump to: navigation, search
Rampton Secure Hospital
Opened 1912
Current Status Active
Building Style Echelon Plan
Alternate Names
  • Rampton Asylum
  • Rampton Hospital (Current)


At the beginning of the 20th century, Broadmoor Hospital was the only high-security psychiatric hospital in Britain, and it was becoming increasingly overcrowded. Staff were over-worked and the patients suffered both abuse and neglect, and it became clear to the state that another hospital was required. The northern setting of Nottinghamshire was selected as the ideal location for the new hospital. The serene countryside and fresh water supply were outstanding features,and the 300 bed facility was constructed in just over three years.

The first 128 patients were transfers from Broadmoor Hospital, and it was manned by a skeleton staff of just 21. In just six years, the hospital had grown exponentially, and now included a farm and a boundary wall, separating the facility’s grounds from the outside world.

Expansion continued on until 1939, and by this point the vast majority of the estate buildings in use had been constructed. The official patient count totaled 1,300, but the rise in staff did not follow. The staff to patient ratio was at an all time low, showing thirteen to one on the majority of wards and villas. The patients were often neglected, and it was during this period when patient escapes were excruciatingly common. The 1930s also saw the introduction of a children’s section to the hospital, where the average patient age was around 12 years.

Changes to the running of the hospital began in 1948 when the Ministry of Health took ownership of the facility, and the Children’s section was closed down. The Mental Health Act of 1959 came into fruition, and for the first time, Rampton was given a clear role and definition as a ‘Special’ Hospital. The Department of Health and Social Security took over the running of the facility, and review tribunals were set in place to check up on the patients’ care. The 1960s brought along Enoch Powell, the Minister of Health who labelled Rampton as the ‘showplace of the department’ and provided the hospital with additional funding to add further extensions. A sports complex with a gymnasium and outdoor area was built, alongside a swimming pool and a chapel for the religious patients.

The predominantly closed institution was renowned for its secrecy and closed-doors activity, but it was not until May 1979 that dark tales of abuse emerged. A documentary entitled ‘Rampton, The Secret Hospital’ was aired on Yorkshire Television that summer, and it highlighted the cruelty and neglect administered to the patients by the staff. This earth-shattering expose film was awarded an International Emmy, and has a place in the top ten television programmes of all time. Unfortunately, this film is now a rare artefact that can only be viewed in London with advanced booking. At the time, the public were outraged with the findings of the documentary, and a follow-up was televised just weeks later.

After an inquiry, education become a focal point of the hospital. In the early 1970s, classrooms were built for patients, followed by a staff education center in 1976. However, as the 1980s approached, a decrease in referrals from the courts meant that the population of Rampton became diminishing. Figures show there were around 800 patients at the beginning of the decade, but in ten years that number dropped to 550.In 1989, the Special Hospitals Service Authority took charge of the hospital, as opposed to the Mental Health Act Commissioners. New regimes and plans for the hospital were created, including the need for higher levels of both security and care. Rampton gained a substantial capital investment, allowing for further expansion.

In 1991, the Rosedale Centre (now known as Dukeries) was opened to provide occupational therapy for both genders with learning disabilities. Costing £2.3 million, the centre has its own sensory relaxation environment, providing patients with a ‘Snoezelen room.’ This form of therapy is called Controlled multi-sensory environment (MSE), and the rooms are designed to introduce stimuli to a number of senses through the use of color, sounds, scents and lighting effects. Such rooms are renowned for people suffering from a range or developmental disabilities and autism.

In 1994, an expert group led by Dr John Reed publicized a report containing a number of changes which were recommended to all thee high security hospitals. The main purpose of the changes were to integrate the special hospital services closer to the standard mental health services, whilst ensuring the safety of everyone involved, including the local communities. The Special Hospitals Service was replaced by a National High Security Psychiatric Services Commissioning Board, within the NHS in 1995. This meant that a greater responsibility was placed on the hospital’s staff, allowing them to develop patients care accordingly. Charter Mark Award

In February 2000, Rampton was awarded with the much sought-after Charter Mark award. Recognizing the achievements and improvements undertaken at Rampton, this award was a demonstration of how Rampton has developed from a mental asylum, to a psychiatric hospital. It became part of the Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust in 2001 and is now renowned for its prestigious patients, instead of the staff.

The Mental Health Service at Rampton Hospital is the largest clinical service area within the Forensic Services Directorate. The majority of patients have a clinical diagnosis of mental illness. However, many patients in the service also present with significant feature of personality disorder.


  • Filmed in full collaboration with Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, the documentary features interviews with current and former patients at Rampton Hospital, as well as members of staff and a carer. The programme aimed to go some way towards demystifying the work of the Hospital – as well as portraying an honest and unbiased account about the need for high secure care.