Many of Britain's mental health patients face unnecessary isolation and unfair assessment according to a former chief of Britain's top secure hospitals.
Charles Kay, who was Chief Executive of the Special Hospital Authority for Broadmoor, Rampton and Ashworth from 1989-1996, yesterday demanded a rethink on patients' confinement.
In an article due to be published in the Mental Health Review later this year, he criticises a shift from individual care towards a focus on control and detention.
The Independent on Sunday has highlighted the plight of hundreds of patients wrongly held in secure hospitals and is campaigning for the transfer of these people to accommodation where they can be treated properly.
Some forgotten prisoners have languished in places such as Broadmoor, Ashworth and Rampton for more than 20 years.
Speaking to The Independent on Sunday yesterday Mr Kay said: "There has been a significant change in atmosphere with the result that many patients are now being treated like offenders."
Criticising the recent pounds 55m allocated to enhance building security at the three hospitals he said: "It seems wrong to be squandering resources in this way, especially since the Tilt report of 1996 revealed Ashworth previously had a better confinement record than most prisons."
There has also been a large increase in the number of staff specifically employed to handle security measures at each hospital. Every planning or assessment meeting now has to be attended by one of the 100 security staff employed at Broadmoor.
"Clinicians and security staff worked side by side. There now appears to be a tension, with …