What Happened at Aston Hall Hospital?
Why were child patients at Aston Hall Hospital in Derbyshire injected with sodium amytal, a so-called truth serum, in therapy sessions in the 1960s and 1970s?
Police are investigating allegations of abuse made by people who, as children, were sent for psychiatric treatment at Aston Hall Hospital in Derbyshire. Some patients say they were only sent there because they were difficult to manage or had behavioural problems.
The Medical Superintendent is accused of 'experimenting' on his child patients, giving them an anaesthetic called sodium amytal in therapy sessions throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Phil Kemp investigates the history of this treatment, which was used on shell shocked soldiers during World War Two, employed as a 'truth serum' by police and intelligence agencies, and by the 80's had become implicated in false memory cases. The hospital closed in 2004 and the Medical Superintendent died in 1976, leaving his patients struggling to make sense of what happened to them at Aston Hall.
Although treatment records reveal the sodium amytal was used on some children, former patients question what really went on while they were drugged. File on 4 opens the medical archives and hears from former staff to piece together a troubled chapter in the history of psychiatric care, and in the lives of former patients.
Reporter - Phil Kemp
Producer - Ruth Evans.