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The provision of forensic mental health services for Women in Scotland has long been noted as requiring improvement. The absence of agreed pathways and services for women creates difficulties accessing appropriate services at medium and low security. There are often also delays in women’s rehabilitation and progress into the community, with it being more likely that women are required to move away from their home Health Board to access appropriate care and treatment.

The final report of the Independent Review into the Delivery of Forensic Mental Health Services in February 2021 re-iterated the need for forensic mental health services to develop clear pathways for women from high secure through to community services in Scotland. The report contained clear recommendations on how to improve care provision including:

Recommendation 3: A high secure service for women should be opened in The State Hospital within nine months of the publication of this Review.

Recommendation 4: The Short Life Working Group set up in response to the Forensic Network’s report on the Women’s Service and Pathways should reform to complete its work related to women’s pathways across in medium secure, low secure and community forensic settings.

Since the publication of the report, the Forensic Network have resumed the Short-Life Working Group, in line with recommendation 4 of the Independent Review. The group met in November 2021 with a new Chair, Prof. Angela Wallace (Nurse Director, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde) and the Terms of Reference and membership of the group were refreshed and renewed at this first meeting.

In order to ensure transparency regarding this ongoing work and to keep colleagues and stakeholders across the Forensic Network aware of progress in this area, a ‘Status Update’ paper has been prepared. This paper outlines how this work has evolved over the last five years and the anticipated next steps of the Short-Life Working Group in progressing the provision of forensic mental health services for women in Scotland.

As always, we are keen to hear any comments that colleagues across the Forensic Network may have on this work. Should you have any feedback or queries on the Status Paper or ongoing work in this area, please contact the Network Office in the first instance (