The State Hospital

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

Welcome and Overview

In this section:


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. Located in South Lanarkshire in central Scotland, 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. The principal aim is to rehabilitate patients, ensuring safe transfer to appropriate lower levels of security.

Photo: State Hospital Front Entrance













There are 140 high-secure beds for male patients requiring maximum secure care: 12 beds specifically for patients with a learning disability. A range of therapeutic, educational, diversional and recreational services including a Health Centre is provided.

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.

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.

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Patients / Staff

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.

During 2016/17 there were 35 patient admissions and 41 patient discharges.

While the majority of admissions were from the courts and prison service, the majority of discharges were to other NHS forensic services. 

Graph showing patient admissions

Graph showing patient discharges

73.9% 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.  This number also includes patients undergoing criminal court proceedings who are also subject to the supervision of the Scottish Ministers.

All patients are male, with an average age of 42. The most common primary diagnosis is schizophrenia. The current average length of stay is six years, with individual lengths of stay ranging from less than one month to over 30 years.


As at 31 March 2017, 642 staff worked at The State Hospital.

Graph of Staff Headcount

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

Photo: Skye Centre for Patient Therapy and Activity











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. 

Photo: Patient Accommodation (Ward Hub and Cluster)











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.

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The Hospital has achieved a number of major awards:

  • Healthy Retail Standard.
  • 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) Accreditation.

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

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Fact Sheets

State Hospital Fact Sheet - 'About Us' (September 2016).

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