LETTERS

I was disappointed with your feature, 'The listening blank' (pages 22-25, 13 September). On the front cover, you list a series of inquiries from early in 1969 to 2001 and the article goes on to imply to that no one listened to the outcome of these inquiries.

The article, however, only goes into any detail about the Ely inquiry, in 1969, and Bristol.

My experience with one inquiry - the Boynton report into Rampton in 1980 - is that this was very clearly listened to both locally and at government level. As a result of the Boynton inquiry, the whole management structure of the then four high-security hospitals was radically changed to respond to Boynton's major criticism of the lack of leadership.

Boynton also went on to point out the overcrowding of highsecurity hospitals, particularly Rampton, and the consequent custodial care given. The population of the high-security hospitals has subsequently reduced to only a third of its capacity at that time, while staffing levels have remained as they were - the staff to patient ratio has radically increased.

The high-security hospitals have, of course, recently been brought into trust status - in the case of Broadmoor and Rampton merging with other NHS mental health providers, which is soon to happen at Ashworth. The system for listening to staff identifying complaints has altered drastically.

I have now had 25 years' contact with Rampton, first as a psychiatric registrar and now as the manager of the hospital. The quality of care and the therapeutic provision given to patients in this hospital is incomparable now to that given 25 years ago.

To imply, as the article does, that nothing happened as the result of reports is a gross misjudgment and perhaps reflects the worst sort of journalism - the use of innuendo without factual basis.

Dr Mike Harris Consultant forensic psychiatrist Forensic services director Nottinghamshire Healthcare trust