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New secure care and psychiatry research centre opens

OCTOBER 03, 2008

The Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London and the largest charitable specialist mental health care provider in the UK, St Andrew’s Healthcare, are calling for more focus on specialist psychiatry in response to a heightened interest on secure services.

Speaking at the launch of their new academic centre, St Andrew’s Chief Executive, Dr. Philip Sugarman, and Professor of Forensic Mental Health at the IoP, Prof. Tom Fahy, recognised that more mentally ill people than ever before are now in a prison setting, and in great need of specialist secure mental health care. A report conducted by the Sainsbury’s Centre for Mental Health identified that the forensic services population rose by 45% between 1996 and 2006, with ‘lack of bed availability’ identified as the most common reason for a delay in referral.

“Increasingly these patients present mental health problems accompanied with challenging and complex behaviour requiring specialist treatment and rehabilitation. There is a clear need for more specialist research and teaching as well as training more psychiatrists and other professionals to intervene with this emerging trend and rehabilitate mentally disordered people back into the community where possible,” commented Prof. Fahy. “That is why our collaboration to launch the academic centre at St Andrew’s Healthcare is so crucial to developing future treatments and interventions for secure services.”

The academic centre, based at St Andrew’s Healthcare, Northampton will establish a group of high calibre practitioners and post graduate students to carry out specialist mental health research and teaching, with the specific aim of giving a much needed boost to secure services in the UK. 

A dedicated team will commission research into a variety of areas using a secure patient group that is rare to sample in such quantity.  As one of the leading providers of mental health care, St Andrew’s can provide a unique, and more importantly, a large sample of secure patients. This makes it an ideal environment to conduct essential research. The aim is that the collaboration will produce a stream of research papers of international standing. 

“St Andrew’s Academic Centre in Northampton will see the forming of a partnership between two prestigious organisations,” added Dr Sugarman. “We are dedicated to becoming a national teaching hospital, and the establishment of this centre will allow us to provide ground-breaking research which will be of great importance to our service users in this sector. The development of specialist secure services is the priority for our charity and we are keen to see research focus on special groups such as adolescents, older adults, brain injury, learning disability and gender-specific services.”

Prof Fahy said: “This collaboration between a university department and an independent sector organisation is unique. It is particularly valuable as St Andrew’s has a large population of patients with complex needs and this collaboration will provide us with the unusual opportunity to develop and evaluate new treatments for these patients, which would be very difficult to do in an NHS setting. The research and teaching priorities of the Institute complements the ethos of St Andrew’s, which is one of delivering high quality care in an excellent therapeutic environment, placing a high regard on patient and public safety.”  

Notes to Editors
St Andrew's Healthcare is the UK’s largest charitable provider of specialist mental health care for men, women and young people with mental illness, learning disabilities and acquired brain injury, complementing and working in partnership with the NHS. With several unique national specialist services, St Andrew's Healthcare has built a strong reputation for the quality and diversity of its specialist assessment, treatment and rehabilitation services, ranging from its high quality short term acute services to the secure treatment programmes offered to people with challenging behaviours.

The Institute of Psychiatry is part of King’s College London and closely affiliated to the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust. The Institute is a world-renowned centre for treatment, research and training in psychiatry and mental health. The organisation is involved in pioneering new and improved ways of understanding and treating mental illness and brain disease. Its wide-ranging field of work includes depression, eating disorders, brain imaging, genetics and psychosis.

King’s College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (Times Higher 2007) and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King’s has 19,700 students from more than 140 countries, and 5,400 employees. King’s has an outstanding reputation for providing world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. The College is in the top group of UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of approximately £450 million. An investment of £500 million has been made in the redevelopment of its estate.

King’s is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe and is home to five Medical Research Council Centres -  a total unsurpassed by any other university.

King's College London and Guy's and St Thomas', King's College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts are working together to create a world-leading Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC).   This AHSC brings together an unrivalled range and depth of clinical and research expertise, spanning both physical and mental health. Our combined strengths will drive improvements in care for patients, allowing them to benefit from breakthroughs in medical science and receive leading edge treatment at the earliest possible opportunity. For more information, visit
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