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Bed cuts at state hospital defended

7 March, 2008  

Scotland’s health secretary Nicola Sturgeon has said that moves to reduce the number of places at Scotland’s state hospital will not lead to a “sudden exodus” of patients to less secure accommodation.

Concerns had been raised after it emerged that the creation of two “medium secure” units in Glasgow and Edinburgh will see a reduction of beds at Carstairs from 240 to 140.

But Ms Sturgeon moved to dispel such fears. She told MSPs in parliament: “It is very important to take this opportunity to stress that this redevelopment will not, as some have rather irresponsibly suggested, result in some sudden exodus of 100 patients from the state hospital.”

At the moment there are 115 “restricted” patients in Carstairs.
The decision over whether to transfer “restricted” patients from the facility will still be made by ministers, although patients can appeal to courts if they feel they are being held in conditions of excessive security.

Ms Sturgeon said that many patients entering the state hospital present a high level or risk.

She added: “With modern treatment, both through drugs and therapies, their mental illness can be treated and managed and the level of risk they present reduced.

“In such circumstances it is appropriate that they be considered for a move to lower security.”

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The State Hospitals Board for Scotland