Chapter 2 of Report on Ely Hospital

The Hospital

12. Ely was established in 1862 as a Poor Law Industrial School for Orphaned Children. In 1903 the school was transferred to an adjacent site. Ely came to be used as a Workhouse under the Board of Guardians, accommodating the mentally ill, mentally defective and chronic aged and infirm patients. Most of the main buildings of the hospital appear to have come into existence well before this date. Almost inevitably, the exterior of the hospital buildings presents a more or less grim and unalluring appearance, not untypical of institutions largely constructed before the turn of the century. Considerable efforts have obviously been made with modern decorative materials to improve the interior of the buildings. And, although the main entrance to the hospital grounds is uninviting, the entrance to the hospital itself appears reasonably attractive.

13. In 1930 control of the Institution was transferred to the Public Assistance Committee of the Cardiff City Council (to which we refer throughout this report as “Cardiff CB”), providing accommodation predominantly for the City of Cardiff but with a proportion for the County of Glamorgan. This position continued until vesting day in 1948 under the National Health Service Act, 1946.

14. On 5th July, 1948, Ely was linked with Whitchurch Hospital to form Group 16 in the National Health Service, and thereafter administered by the Whitchurch and Ely Hospital Management Committee. Ely was designated a Mental Deficiency Institution and Mental Hospital. On 30th April, 1961, the appointed day for the implementation of the relevant provisions of the Mental Health Act, 1959, Ely was classified as a Psychiatric Hospital.

15. Following the reorganisation of the grouping structure in South East Wales on 1st April, 1965, Ely came to be administered—together with 6 other hospitals and one chest clinic—by the newly formed Cardiff North and District Hospital Management Committee. (Hereafter in this report we refer to this Management Committee and, unless the context otherwise requires, its predecessor, the Whitchurch and Ely Hospital Management Committee, as “the HMC”.)

16. The specialist role of the hospital, its medical and nursing staffing, management and recent history are all considered in more detail below. In 1964 the hospital had a total bed complement of 614: at that time 422 beds were designated for mental subnormality and 192 beds for mental illness. At the time when our Inquiry opened in December, 1967, the actual use of beds within this total complement had altered so that some 472 were designated for subnormality and 140 for mental illness. The mental illness in question appears to have been largely psycho-geriatric in nature. However, the actual bed occupation at the hospital on 18th November, 1967, was stated to have been as follows: —

Mentally Ill
Men (including 7non-ambulant) 39
Women (including 33 non-ambulant) 85
Total 124
Sub-Normal and Severely Sub-Normal:
Men (including 22 non-ambulant) 189
Women (including 19 non-ambulant) 143
Boys (including 36 non-ambulant) 75
Girls (including 21 non-ambulant) 54
Total 461

17.In addition 15 patients were on local leave, making a grand total of 600 patients.

37.At the end of 1967 the nursing staff in post consisted of 48 on the male side (compared with an establishment of 58) under the charge of a Chief Male Nurse, and 114 on the female side (as compared with an establishment of 119) under the charge of a Matron. In addition to the nursing staff there were four women doing part-time domestic work on the male wards.

38.The medical staff consisted of one consultant (Physician Superintendent), one Senior Hospital Medical Officer and one Junior Hospital Medical Officer.

39.Administration was in charge of the Hospital Secretary, responsible to the Group Secretary. Total nursing, administrative and other staff (excluding medical) amounted to 290J (including 25J part-time).

40.The catchment area of the hospital is discussed in more detail below: but it is intended to serve the City of Cardiff and the eastern half of Glamorgan. Of the 94 admissions during 1965, 9 and 3 patients respectively appear to have come from the County Boroughs of Swansea and Newport; and another dozen patients from more or less remote parts of Wales, outside the County of Glamorgan.