Advertisement

Organizational racism' cited in deaths at British hospital

LONDON -- An investigation has concluded that 'organizational racism' at a British psychiatric hospital contributed to the deaths of three black men who were forcibly injected with tranquilizers and then placed in seclusion.

The three men died over a 10-year period at Broadmoor Hospital, a maximum-security facility used by the state to hold mentally ill patients accused of violent crimes. The investigation, headed by criminology professor Herschel Prins, was started after the death of Orville Blackwood in August 1991.

Advertisement

The investigating team, in a report released Tuesday, said the three men who died at Blackmoor were viewed as being 'big, black and dangerous' by staff, who considered their behavior belligerent rather than psychotic and used drugs to control them rather than counseling or psychotherapy to treat them.

'There is racism in Broadmoor Hospital. It is not on the whole deliberate or necessarily conscious, although there was some evidence of direct racism in some areas,' the report concluded. 'There exists a subtle, unconscious on the whole, but nevertheless effective, form of organizational racism.'

The report, which also looked at the deaths of Joseph Watts in August 1988 and Michael Martin in July 1984, said all three men had become involved in violent disputes with staff, who forcibly restrained them, injected them with tranquilizers and then placed them in isolation.

Advertisement

The heavy emphasis placed on the use of drugs to control the patients prompted some ethnic minorities in the hospital to voice concerns that authorities were 'killing them off,' the report said.

The investigating team issued 47 recommendations for improving conditions at the hospital, including revising recruitment policy to ensure the employment of ethnic minorities in management jobs.

The investigating team also suggested developing race awareness training programs, and it criticized the hospital for what it said were the poor quality of nursing skills, the lack of management guidance and the insensitive attitude staff members have toward patients.

When the team visited Broadmoor two months after Blackwood's death, it found his name had been crossed out on a list of patient names on an office wall with the letters RIP -- rest in peace -- next to it and a picture of a cartoon duck nearby.

'It can never be acceptable for professional nurses to make such jokes about patients in their care,' the report said. 'It indicates a lack of respect for patients as people. The prime concern of the staff seems to be control and management, not care.'

About 15 percent of the patients at Broadmoor are classified as Afro- Caribbean, like the three men who died after being tranquilized and isolated.

Advertisement

Despite the criticism of the hospital, Clara Buckley, Blackwood's mother, described the report as a coverup, saying no one had been punished for causing her son's death.

Hospital officials immediately dismissed two main recommendations: for an outside consultant and a follow-up inquiry to see reforms were implemented. The officials said the hospital's internal reform procedure was adequate to handle the situation.

Latest Headlines

Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement