The State Hospital

The State Hospital, Carstairs, Lanark ML11 8RP
Phone: 01555 840293 Fax: 01555 840024 email:

Welcome and Overview

About Us

Although The State Hospital shares the same values, aims and challenges as the rest of the NHS in Scotland, it is unique because it has the dual responsibility of caring for very ill, detained patients as well as protecting them, the public and staff from Photo: State Hospital Signharm.’

In 1994 legislation went through Parliament to bring The State Hospital legally into the National Health Service in Scotland as a Special Health Board - The State Hospitals Board for Scotland - accountable to Scottish Ministers through the Scottish Government.

The State Hospital is one of four high secure hospitals in the UK. It is a national service for Scotland and Northern Ireland and one part of the pathway of care that should be available for those with secure care needs.

Photo: State Hospital Front Entrance














The State Hospital, in South Lanarkshire, is part of the NHS in Scotland. Its purpose is to provide high secure forensic mental health services for Scotland and Northern Ireland. It cares for an average of 125 patients, all with very significant mental health problems, and has approximately 660 staff. Its principal aim is to prepare patients for safe transfer to further care and rehabilitation in appropriate lower levels of security.

The Hospital’s services include therapies, education and recreation, plus a Health Centre. Patient accommodation is in four hubs, each of which contains three wards with 12 beds.

The State Hospitals Board for Scotland is the governing body of the Hospital. It is accountable to Scottish Ministers, through the Scottish Government, for the quality of care and the efficient use of resources.


Photo: Patient Accommodation (Ward Hub and Cluster)












Partnership working with South Lanarkshire Council is well established and provides social work services for patients and their families in addition to liaising with patients’ designated Mental Health Officers (MHOs) across the country.

Given that the patients do not have access to other services or communities, the Hospital addresses all of their needs (e.g. therapeutic, vocational, social and physical wellbeing) via a range of therapeutic, educational, diversional and recreational services including a Health Centre.

Photo: Skye Centre for Patient Therapy and Activity











The Forensic Mental Health Services Managed Care Network (Forensic Network) is hosted by The State Hospital.

Well developed relationships exist with the Mental Health Tribunal Service for Scotland and the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, and good partnership working is in place across the Forensic Network to ensure these patients are transferred as required.


Patients (2014/15)

Photo: Hub Entrance

  • Patients are admitted to the Hospital under The Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 and other related legislation because of their dangerous, violent or criminal propensities. Patients without convictions will have displayed seriously aggressive behaviours, usually including violence.
  • 74% of the patients are ‘restricted’ patients within the jurisdiction of Scottish Ministers.  That is a patient who because of the nature of his offence and antecedents, and the risk that as a result of his mental disorder he would commit an offence if set at large, is made subject to special restrictions without limit of time in order to protect the public from serious harm.
  • All patients are male, with an average age of 42. The most common primary diagnosis is schizophrenia. The current average length of stay is 7.2 years, with individual lengths of stay ranging from two months to over 40 years.
  • During 2014/15 there were 27 patient admissions and 35 patient discharges.



“The State Hospital provides the skills, culture, rehabilitation ethos and fit-for-purpose physical facilities necessary for high quality care of forensic patients.”

Wards are in four units (hubs and clusters) with each unit comprising three 12-bedded areas (i.e. 36 beds per hub).  Clinical team offices, admin support and staff facilities are provided within an office accommodation block in each unit to facilitate multi-disciplinary engagement. An activity hub in each unit allows wards to share a range of facilities including day spaces, group treatment/therapy facilities and multi-function spaces. All wards have domestic kitchens and laundry areas that support patients in maintaining and developing activities of daily living skills.  Privacy and dignity is promoted with en suite facilities for all patients and the facility to have a key to their bedroom.   Patients are able to access outdoor spaces including ward gardens and hub gardens. 

All patient therapy and activity is under the one roof within the Skye Centre. The Family Centre for child visiting reflects the needs of patients, carers and children.

All facilities have a functional design to maximise observation, and optimise safety and security, whilst maintaining a therapeutic balance.



The Hospital has achieved a number of major awards:

  • Eat Safe Award for Excellence in Food Hygiene.

  • Healthyliving Award and Healthyliving Award Plus for Promoting Healthy Eating.

  • Health Facilities Scotland's, Innovations Award and "The Paul Taylor" overall winner award.

  • Investing in Volunteers (IiV).

  • Healthy Working Lives Gold Plus Award which incorporates both the Gold Award and the Mental Health & Wellbeing Commendation Award.


Printable Information

State Hospital Fact Sheet - 'About Us' (September 2015)Opens in a new window