Ashworth High Secure Hospital is based on Maghull Health Park, a centre of excellence for secure care which includes Rowan View medium secure hospital and Aspen Wood, a low secure facility for learning disability patients.

Originally built as Moss Side Hospital in 1933, Park Lane Hospital was added to the site in 1974 but operated independently until the two units were merged in 1989 and became Ashworth High Secure Hospital.

It is a specialist psychiatric hospital providing assessment, treatment and care in conditions of high security for men aged 18 and above and its catchment area covers the Midlands, Wales, the North West and parts of Yorkshire. Ashworth is one of only three high secure psychiatric hospitals in England and Wales, treating patients with mental health issues and personality disorders who represent a danger to themselves or others.

It received an overall rating of good during the last inspection by the Care Quality Commission in January 2023, including 'Outstanding' for Caring. It is run by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and was relicensed by the Department of Health and Social Care as a provider for high security psychiatric services in March 2024 for a further five years, a process which ensures services provided are of the highest quality.

Services provided

Forensic inpatient and secure wards

Finding us

Instructions for how to find Ashworth High Secure Hospital, based at Maghull Health Park, by road, rail and bus can be found in our visitors document or by using the map below.

Ashworth High Secure Hospital

We have 13 inpatient wards at the hospital:

  • Arnold ward
  • Blake ward
  • Carlyle ward
  • Dickens ward
  • Johnson ward
  • Keats ward
  • Lawrence ward
  • Macaulay ward
  • Newman ward
  • Owen ward
  • Ruskin ward
  • Shelley ward
  • Turner ward

There is free parking available on site.

Patient visitors will have access to refreshments during their visit.

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.

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 Hospital is open for patient visits during these times:

  • Monday to Sunday: 1.30-3.30pm 
  • Tuesday evening: 6.15-7.30pm 

We welcome families and friends of patients. If you wish to visit please contact the direct booking line on 0151 471 2300 at least 72 hours in advance. 

Visits take place in the Exchange building within the secure perimeter of Ashworth Hospital. Depending on individual patient circumstances, visitors are occasionally allowed to visit on a ward.


Planning your visit

You will need to be approved as a visitor. Official visitors must be approved by the appropriate department or staff member prior to visiting the hospital in a professional capacity.

Visits can only take place if the patient consents and is well enough to take part. Visitors must comply with safety and security measures and will be asked a series of questions and requested to bring proof of identity with them.  We may make further enquiries before giving permission for a visit to take place.

All visitors are subject to the patients possessions policy which, for safety and security reasons, limits the type and number of items patients can have in their rooms.  It is advisable to check with staff whether an individual patient will be able to receive a specific item before any purchase is made.


When you arrive

We strongly recommended you arrive at least half an hour before your visit, to allow enough time for security procedures and escort to the visiting area.

When you arrive at the hospital visitors reception, you will go through a security screening measures similar to those at an airport, including:

  • Walking through a metal detector arch
  • Removal of coats, jackets, watches, jewellery items and sometimes footwear
  • X-raying of all bags and belongings
  • Each visiting person is given a rub down search over their clothing (conducted by a same sex member of staff)
  • The occasional presence of a drug detection dog

Secure lockers are provided at the visitors reception where you can leave prohibited items such as computers, mobile phones and sharp objects.

Facilities are available for disabled visitors and there is an interpreter service, by prior arrangement.

Visitors are not permitted to enter the hospital with food or tobacco products; you can buy drinks and snacks in the visitors’ area. Ashworth Hospital is a non-smoking NHS Hospital.

We hope you enjoy your visit and please feel free to contact us for further assistance.

Watch our short film about visiting here.

We are committed to supporting contact and strengthening family ties for children who are separated from their fathers and close relatives and we will support contact whenever it is in the childs best interest and supports their wishes and feelings.

We have a dedicated member of staff who will offer guidance and a family room well equipped to meet the needs of children. A team of trained staff will be present for the visit and ensure that contact is supervised at all times.

The welfare of children is paramount and requests for contact between patients and children are carefully scrutinised to ensure the interests of the child are protected.

Watch our short video here.

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.

LR at Ashworth collage.jpg

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 culturally informed approaches to improve life and health outcomes.


If you would like to give gift items to a patient, please view the patient possessions catalogue, which indicates of the types of items patients are permitted to have in their possession while they are at Ashworth Hospital. Only those items in the catalogue can be given to patients. Items may also be restricted to one per patient and are subject to change. Requests can be made to consider an item to be included in the catalogue. Gifts must be left at the visitors’ reception and are delivered to the patient after the visit.  If you need advice please contact the visitors’ reception prior to your visit.

Patients Possessions Catalogue

If you would like to give gift items to a patient, please first contact us to check with the patients possessions catalogue.

This document shows the types of items patients are permitted to have while they are at Ashworth Hospital. Only those items in the document can be given to patients. Items may also be restricted to one per patient and are subject to change.

Requests can be made to consider an item to be included in the list of permitted items. Gifts must be left at the visitors reception and will be delivered to the patient after the visit.  If you need advice please contact the visitors reception before you come.

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.