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Staff shortages at Carstairs hospital could have tragic consequences

Staffing shortages at The State Hospital in Carstairs could lead to a tragedy.

That’s the claim from whistleblowers, who say the shortages are putting both workers and patients at risk.

Whistleblowers at the high-security psychiatric facility in Lanarkshire, where some of Scotland most notorious murderers have been detained, claim the NHS are struggling to recruit staff, leading to changes in the ward routines.

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Fed-up members of staff have revealed that the “bizarre” decision has been taken to allow patients to remain out of their rooms unless it’s overnight, resulting in a “dangerous” working environment.

They also claim it’s only a matter of time before “something tragic happens”

The hospital sources claim that a number of patients have raised complaints after being locked in their rooms for lengthy periods.

One of four high-security hospitals in the UK, Carstairs has 140 high-secure beds, and another four for emergency use, for male patients requiring maximum security care.

Around a quarter of the male patients there are killers who were deemed not mentally fit to stand trial or be in the general prison population.

Patients housed there at the moment include psychopath James Dunleavy who killed his mum at home in Edinburgh and cut her up before burying her in a shallow grave. He is said to be “untreatable”.

And schizophrenic David Johnstone who killed an 83-year-old dog walker after brutally assaulting a couple out exercising their pet. He was ordered to be detained without limit of time.

In 1976 Thomas McCulloch and Robert Mone infamously murdered three people – a nurse, another patient and a cop – with axes in an ill-fated escape attempt.

Staff shortages at Carstairs hospital could have tragic consequences
A policeman was one of three people murdered by Mone and McCulloch at Carstairs in 1976

Management at the hospital have admitted they are experiencing current challenges with staffing and have altered procedures accordingly.

“It’s astonishing. Wards are being closed daily due to the current staffing crisis but in the wards that are being kept open, they are running with unsafe levels,” a source said.

“This is because the patients have complained about being locked up. And despite it being a high-security hospital, the bizarre decision has been made that patients are not to be in their rooms unless it’s overnight.

Staff shortages at Carstairs hospital could have tragic consequences
The State Hospital, Carstairs

“Random spot-checks are being carried out by management on the nursing division to ensure patients are not in their rooms.

“So this means the staffing is unsafe as it falls below minimum levels and therefore highly dangerous for staff to work in.

“It’s only a matter of time before something tragic happens.”

They also say that management have been considering implementing an incident command protocol.

The source added: “Incident command means emergency action is needed.

“But while they’re talking about unsafe staffing levels, dangerous prisoners are being allowed to roam in the wards with barely enough staff to keep on top of things and keep an eye on them.”

A spokeswoman for Carstairs said: “The State Hospital is experiencing short-term staffing challenges which are being managed through our resilience planning arrangements.

“This helps to ensure we best meet the needs of our patients, and also ensure a safe environment for patients and staff.”

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