On 31st July 2004 it will be 20 years since the Yorkshire Centre for Forensic Psychiatry first opened. The centre is run by the South West Yorkshire Mental Health NHS Trust.
The Yorkshire Centre for Forensic Psychiatry (Newton Lodge) provides an assessment and treatment service primarily for individuals who have committed a criminal offence and whose predominant needs are associated with a mental health problem.
The centre has seen many changes over the last twenty years. Newton Lodge opened in 1984 as a 40 bed forensic unit for people with challenging and offending behaviour. Today there are 80 beds, six consultants and a well-developed and successful training programme. Almost all of the psychiatrists currently working at Newton Lodge have been there since completion of their formal training. The building has also expanded beyond recognition, being extended as the number of clients and staff grew.
Specialist services have also been developed. There is a ward specifically to meet the needs of women who require care in a forensic setting, one of only a few in the country. A number of nursing staff are trained in areas such as substance misuse and anger management, providing a specialist service. There is also a service for people with learning disabilities, providing assessment, treatment and rehabilitation.
Dr Haskayne, hospital practitioner, who has been involved with the Wakefield Forensic Service throughout the twenty years since Newton Lodge opened, explained how patient care has changed, ‘We have always done our best to keep up with modern approaches to care and I believe that the standards of psychiatry are on a par with the best possible practices around.
‘We have become more liberal over the years and there has also been a big shift in staff attitudes. Care is now less custodial and less restrictive, clients are given more freedom within the unit and their views are respected and taken into account.
‘We are proud of the way that we have adapted to trends in psychiatry and responded with different methods of care. Unfortunately this has not been the same for the public’s perception of the people that we care for. Society is still fearful of offenders and has a distorted perception of the patients treated at Newton Lodge.’
She concluded, ‘It is difficult to predict what will happen in the future but whatever happens we will continue to adapt to new approaches to care and rehabilitation, ensuring that we endeavour to take a modern approach.’