Broadmoor patients 'to get Wii Fit'
Updated on 14 August 2009
Management minutes obtained by Channel 4 News show plans for patients at high-security hospital Broadmoor to get Wii Fit video games, writes Lewis Hannam.
Patients at a high-security psychiatric hospital which houses violent criminals including the Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe are set to be given Wii-Fit video games in order to improve their health, confidential papers reveal.
A human rights row about "siestas" for dangerous patients, and concerns over criminals changing their names, are also detailed in the senior management minutes from Broadmoor Hospital obtained by Channel 4 News.
Fears over staff not being told of the dangers posed by high-risk patients, and patients not being told they are being admitted to Broadmoor in the first place, are also outlined in the documents obtained under Freedom of Information (FoI) laws.
The minutes show that Wii-Fit games, which allow participants to play games on a TV screen by physically moving on a sensor pad, should be purchased "to achieve a broadly fitter" hospital population, amid general fears over diabetes levels among patients.
The papers say the games, which cost more than £300 each, were already up and running in Rampton Hospital, a fellow high-security hospital in Nottinghamshire which houses Soham killer Ian Huntley.
An exotically-named practice of "siestas" at Broadmoor is also revealed in the papers, whereby patients on the Dangerous People with Severe Personality Disorder unit "are required to retire to their rooms for an hour after lunch". The hospital said it was to allow time for essential management, including the staff changing shifts.
But the minutes show that one patient complained to the Citizen's Commission for Human Rights on the grounds the afternoon confinement equated to seclusion. The practice remains in place.
The minutes, which cover a string of meetings between October 2008 and May this year, also show how one doctor "proposed an amendment to the policy regarding patients changing their names to ensure that the identity of perpetrators can be retained".
The subject of criminals or psychiatric patients changing their names has been controversial since the Bichard Inquiry into Ian Huntley revealed records of his previous behaviour in Humberside under a different name were not linked to him in Cambridgeshire.
Elsewhere in the documents, it was said that "very often the domestic is not made aware of the risks presented by certain patients". It was subsequently agreed that staff should be given "training sessions of around 2-3 hours to address boundary issues and clinical risk".
While one concerned doctor said in October last year that some patients were not even aware they were being transferred to the infamous institution from prison, stating that it was "not acceptable that patients are not told they are coming to Broadmoor Hospital".
Also revealed in the minutes are plans for a "therapy mall" for patients which is to include "a shop, hairdressers and café", and the abandonment of random visits by HM Prison Audit Team because they were not "cost effective".
Last month Channel 4 News revealed that the management at Broadmoor had become so concerned about recent security lapses that they'd had to write to staff to remind them to lock up the patients.
A spokesman for the West London Mental Health Trust, which runs Broadmoor, confirmed that it had so far purchased one Wii-Fit machine at a cost of £306, and that its suitability was being assessed ahead of further purchases.
He said the hospital had responded to the human rights concerns raised over "siestas", but the practice was supported by its legal advisors and the Mental Health Act Commission.
He said there was no law preventing patients from changing their names. Therefore, in the handful of instances when it was applicable, all hospital paperwork includes both the name by which the patient was originally known and his current preferred name if different.
He added that domestic and estates staff now undergo further training to ensure safety, and that the issue of patients being transferred to Broadmoor "without discussion" only occurred when "the risk of harm before or during transfer outweighed the benefits of discussion with the prisoner".