Service users within High Secure Services are admitted after being assessed by a number of highly qualified clinicians who believe it is the best place for them to be treated for their mental health disorder.

Each service user:

  • Meets the criteria for detention under the Mental Health Act 1983
  • Has been clinically assessed and are deemed to present a grave and immediate risk of harm to themselves and others.

On admission to the hospital, every patient receives an assessment focusing on mental health problems, difficulties of personality functioning, and cognitive function.  

The second part of the admission process is an assessment focusing on risk issues.  This part of the assessment aims to identify factors that are linked to any risks that the patient poses to himself and/or others.  The assessment leads to an initial formulation that will guide the patient’s psychological care pathway through the hospital.  The psychological formulation remains an on-going process through the patient’s recovery.

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Ward Interventions service

This service enables the patient and their care team on the ward to have easy access to psychological care.  We offer support, guidance, supervision, assessment and therapy at ward level and provide an important contribution to the clinical team and ward based developments. 

Through the Care Programme Approach, we co-ordinate and offer a range of therapies in the most helpful patient centred manner.  Ward based staff provide psychological expertise into all multidisciplinary meetings.

Ashworth Hospital has a voluntary befriending scheme for patients. The dedication, commitment and compassion of befrienders can help patients, especially those who do not receive visits from family and friends, to feel connected with the outside world,

Volunteers can help patients develop their confidence and communication skills, leading to positive self development and a reduced feeling of isolation. Patients report a great benefit and value highly visits from their befriender.

If you would like to know more about the scheme please contact the volunteering team. 

Tel: 0151 478 6556


All patients admitted to Ashworth Hospital have a social worker who is part of the Patient Care Team and who will remain throughout their stay and work with them towards their recovery.

Families can play a vital role in planning a patient’s care and treatment. The social worker will work with you so that you can be involved in planning care, treatment and rehabilitation, and support you with any social care needs you may have. 

Before the patient arrives at Ashworth Hospital your social worker will make contact, to assess whether Ashworth Hospital is the best place for care or whether a less secure environment would be more appropriate. 

Soon after admission the social worker will visit again to provide background information about the hospital, including visiting arrangements and the patient’s rights under the Mental Health Act.

The social worker will then work with you to build up a picture of the patient's social history and family background. They will continue to offer support throughout the patient’s stay, preparing for mental health reviews and transfer to a less secure environment or discharge.

Senior social workers follow the National Standards for the Provision of Social Care Services in the High Security Hospitals.

Ashworth High Secure Hospital patients have access to the ground breaking Life Rooms service, which provides an extensive and enhanced range of social support, resources and educational sessions to patients requiring a high secure environment for the first time.

As part of treatment for its secure patients, Mersey Care will deliver meaningful activity and learning opportunities, including an ‘Activities of Daily Living Kitchen’ which allows patients to practice a range of instrumental tasks including meal preparation and cooking, so they are better equipped to care for themselves independently when they move on from services.

Having these opportunities available within secure care will support the social factors that may impact our patients’ recovery and rehabilitation. It gives the highest quality NHS care to support enhanced recovery and build confidence through a range of courses like drama, music, gardening and the gym.

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The Life Rooms at Ashworth will support up to 96 patients a day and provides structured courses, many of which have been developed alongside patients, and delivered by some of the most experienced forensic care practitioners in the NHS.

This ‘Social Model of Health’ relies on three strands, which they hope will better prepare patients for a return to society once their secure care is complete.

They are:

  • Learning: Delivering a wide range of evidence-based learning opportunities designed to improve health. Our creative and inclusive curriculum works alongside the lived experience of individuals and communities
  • Social Prescribing: Using social approaches, patients can benefit from prescribed activity and learning to improve skills and ability to help prepare for a life beyond secure services

Inclusion: Listening to our secure communities to understand need and aspiration. We work together to co-design and embed

Ashworth Hospital provides high secure inpatient care to men detained under the Mental Health Act who are considered to pose a grave risk of harm to others.  Services users may experience difficulties related to complex mental health needs, personality-related challenges, cognitive functioning, and trauma histories.

Within the Hospital, Psychological Services aim to collaboratively deliver comprehensive evidence-based psychological assessment, formulation and treatment to support service user recovery and rehabilitation, reduce the risks they present to others and themselves, and inform risk management planning. The specialities of our team and the therapies and other psychological interventions we offer are very diverse to ensure we can meet the wide breadth of needs of our service users. 

We are embedded within service users’ multidisciplinary care teams, offering a psychological perspective and consultation to support compassionate and least restrictive care and foster the competence and confidence of staff in working with complex needs. We also provide representation at hospital, secure division, and national committees, where we integrate psychological thinking into decision making.

The Psychological Services team comprises qualified clinical and forensic psychologists, cognitive behavioural therapists, nurse therapists and assistant psychologists.  Placements are regularly provided for trainee clinical and forensic psychologists and international students, and we have strong teaching and training links with universities in Northwest England.Our inhouse Ashworth Research Centre conducts world leading research in a range of forensic areas.

We are a highly specialised psychology service that provides individual therapy and group interventions that contribute to the reduction of risk of violent or sexual offending.

We accept referrals from GPs, Police, Probation, Children’s Services and mental health services to contribute to risk management in the community. Service users should be referred by a professional involved in their care who can act as coordinator and point of contact. All referrals from outside Mersey Care need to be funded by the referring or other agency. 

We offer a range of evidence-based therapies including CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), Schema Therapy, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing), MBT (Mentalisation Based Therapy), DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy). Interventions are based on a psychological formulation of the individual client and often involve the re-processing of childhood trauma linked to the problem behaviours. We also provide intervention for parents/carers aimed at improving the ability to protect children from sexual harm.

Trauma Focused Therapy Service

MFPS provide this service into the North West prisons that are covered by North West Psychology Services. Assessments can be carried out across this estate and the therapy service is provided at HMP Wymott. It offers long term 1-1 psychological therapy aimed at reducing the impact of past traumatic experiences on current functioning, including the factors related to offending behaviour. The therapy models utilised include Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR), Schema Therapy and other methods of reprocessing trauma as appropriate.

Individuals are referred by the Offender Supervisor, Offender Manager, Psychologist or other professional.

Prevention Service

The MFPS Prevention Service aims to help individuals with concerning sexual thoughts from going on to commit a sexual offence.

This is not a self-referral service, and you must refer yourself through your GP, or if you are a current Mersey Care service user, you can ask your care team to contact us. If appropriate we will invite you to the service for an assessment.

To be suitable for the Prevention Service:

  • You must be over 16
  • You must not have a conviction for a sexual offence (though the service accepts individuals with an indecent exposure offence, to prevent an escalation in behaviour).

Please be aware that if you inform us about any criminal activity committed by yourself or others this information will be reported to the relevant authorities, such as safeguarding services or the Police.

Stop it Now

The ‘Stop it Now’ service offers anonymous help via their website and helpline: 0808 1000 900.

Get in touch

If you have any further questions, or would like more information then please contact us on 0151 330 6430.