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Secure hospital for women 'not needed in Scotland'

SCOTS female high-security psychiatric patients must move to English facilities to receive treatment - Carstairs State Hospital no longer takes female patients, meaning psychiatric patients like Theresa Riggi are moved to Rampton Secure Hospital in Nottinghamshire.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said the situation will not change if Scotland becomes independent and cross-border arrangements will stay in place. She said: "Scotland will continue to work with other parts of the UK to ensure all restricted patients are treated in an appropriate secure facility."

Mental health experts believe there is no need for a female maximum security hospital north of the Border.

Dr Donald Lyons, chief executive of the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, said: "Since the state hospital stopped admitting women a few years ago, I can only recall two situations where women have been required to be transferred to high-security facilities in England. I don't think there is a need for a high-security facility in Scotland."

Health officials were keen to stress Rampton is a hospital, not a prison, as is often perceived by people on the outside. Among the hospital's 350 patients is Soham murderer Ian Huntley.

Lyons also argued that if female patients remained in Scotland they would be isolated.

"It's all about striking the right balance," he said. "Patients can speak to family via video link and there can also be funding provided for relatives to visit patients. Moving to England allows them to mix with their peers and even make friends.

"Illnesses change, and in the majority of cases, mental health improves.

"A person can them move on a step down to a lower level of security back in Scotland."

The NHS claimed it would "not be practical" to run a high-security hospital in Scotland.

A spokesman for NHS National Services Scotland said: "For some very rare conditions, or for highly complex clinical needs, care is only available at one or two sites in the UK.

"We work with providers in England to co-ordinate this."

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