Independent investigators have been brought in to look at allegations of overspending and fraud at the hospital
Broadmoor high-security hospital looks after some of the most violent criminals in the country and provides services for over 20,000 patients per year in total. However, the hospital is now in the middle of a financial scandal as it was recently revealed that the department responsible for funding some of the larger projects has overspent by £4m on unapproved or unfunded schemes. This has already resulted in the hospital cancelling a number of clinical projects.
One of the unfunded projects that has been called into question at Broadmoor is a £200,000 ‘seclusion suite’, designed to keep the most violent and dangerous patients away from staff and other patients. These ‘suites’ are also present in the two other high-security hospitals in the country – Rampton in Nottinghamshire and Ashworth in Liverpool. Overspending in other areas of the Trust has also taken place, with the refurbishment of Lakeside Mental Health Unit in Hounslow more than £560,000 over budget, and £80,000 spent on a ‘Cost Coffee-style’ café that is yet to serve a drink. This has also caused future projects to be cancelled, including a community-support centre that was due to be built in Ealing at a cost £1.5 million.
A spokesman from the West London Mental Health Trust commented on the recent news:
“[The Trust has] an overriding duty to spend taxpayer money on priorities that make a different to patient care. With that in mind, the trust has commissioned an independent investigation into the historic management of finances relating to capital projects undertaken within the capital estates and facilities department of the trust. We are unable to comment in detail on the investigation while it is ongoing. However, we can assure the public that the trust takes this matter very seriously and the investigation will be full and impartial, and will interview all those involved in the management of the department at that time.”
Last year work began on the redevelopment of Broadmoor hospital, which is estimated to cost £242m and open in early 2017.
With the underfunded NHS driving much of the debate for the 2015 General Election, and analysts predicting that it will require an additional £65bn of funding by 2030, it is very concerning to hear reports of reckless spending as the NHS becomes increasingly strained. Regardless of the outcome of this report, it is highly unlikely that this £4m in taxpayers’ money will be recovered in any way, but it may lead to the spending by other Trusts and NHS departments being scrutinised. A closer management of funds, and the curtailing of unnecessary and frivolous expenditure, should lead to more investment in improving treatment for patients.