Letters

I read with interest your articles on Ashworth Hospital (news, page 2, 14 January; news focus, 21 January).

It is important not to underestimate the difficulties facing managers of the high-security hospitals. Clearly there were things that should not have happened at Ashworth. However, from my own experience as former chief executive of Broadmoor Hospital, the media can inflate issues - as indeed the Fallon inquiry confirmed in its comment on the external management review that was carried out at Broadmoor in 1997, which dismissed many of the wild allegations in newspaper reports.

It is wrong to criticise the Special Hospitals Service Authority, which produced significant results in improving patient care at high-security hospitals during its lifetime from 1989 to 1996. It is a difficult task and should not be underestimated.

I have some worries about the constant reference to Ray Rowden as some kind of expert. To me this is media hype given that he only had an association with the special hospitals for 18 months.

Alan Franey Welwyn Garden City