A Modern Hospital

Jan Walmsley and a group of disabled researchers look back at life in Princess Marina Hospital, Northamptonshire in the years before its closure.

Authors: Finding Out Group supported by Jan Walmsley

The Finding Out Group is a group of disabled researchers. Working together with Jan Walmsley the group investigated life at Princess Marina Hospital in Northamptonshire. This research focused particularly on the experiences of the staff who worked at the hospital.

This research gives a rare and fascinating insight into the perspective of nurses and the other staff who ran the institutions which dominated services for people with learning disabilities for most of the Twentieth Century. Princess Marina was a modern hospital, offering much better facilities than older institutions. Many staff were able to compare this new service favourably with the institutions that preceded it. 

However it is also clear from the research that people's lives were still highly constrained and the risks of abuse remained high. Many staff spoke of the challenge of whistleblowing and the institutional controls that extended to staff as well as patients.

The research also suggested that in some areas things are now going backwards. In particular the role of regulation and bureaucratic control has grown and often it is becoming harder to work with people in a more human way, for example inviting people to visit your home or spend time with family and friends.

The Centre for Welfare Reform is pleased to publish another important document that helps us to remember the dangers of institutionalisation and the legacy of dehumanisation that we still need to work to overcome.

Read and download the free pdf in your browser here.

The publisher is the Centre for Welfare Reform.

A Modern Hospital © Finding Out Group 2015.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher except for the quotation of brief passages in reviews.


Paper | 20.12.15

Deinstitutionalisation, intellectual disabilities, England, Paper

Jan Walmsley


Independent researcher

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