Contemporary women's secure psychiatric services in the United Kingdom: A qualitative analysis of staff views

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Women's Enhanced Medium Secure Services (WEMSS) is bespoke, gender-sensitive services which opened in the UK in 2007 at three pilot sites. This study is the first of its kind to explore the experiences of WEMSS staff, directly comparing them to staff in a standard medium secure service for women. The literature to date has focused on the experiences of service users or staff views on working with women in secure care.


This qualitative study, embedded in a multimethod evaluation of WEMSS, aimed to explore the views and experiences of staff in WEMSS and comparator medium secure services.


Qualitative interviews took place with nine WEMSS staff and nine comparator medium secure staff. Interviews focused on factors important for recovery, barriers to facilitating recovery and operational aspects of the service.


This study provides a rare insight into the perspectives of staff working in UK women's secure services, an under-researched area in the UK and internationally. Findings suggest that the success of services, including WEMSS, is compromised by operational factors such as the use of bank staff.

Implications for practice

Comprehensive training and supervision should be mandatory for all staff, so best practice is met and staff adequately supported.

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