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Former forensic mental health nurse hopes his memoir will inspire new recruits

Ex-Broadmoor nurse Paul Deacon wants to dispel myths about the high-security hospital

Ex-Broadmoor nurse Paul Deacon wants to dispel myths about the high-security hospital


Broadmoor hospital in Berkshire. Picture: Barney Newman

A new memoir by a retired mental health nurse recounts his experiences working at Broadmoor, England’s most famous high-security hospital.

Paul Deacon hopes his book Walls and Bridges: Bodmin to Broadmoor will dispel myths about the institution and encourage more people into the profession.

Conflicting feelings of anger and compassion

Mr Deacon, who had a 35-year career in nursing, spent a decade working at Broadmoor Hospital.

‘You are looking after people, and yes some have committed horrific crimes but they are human beings,’ Mr Deacon told Nursing Standard.

'At times you would be torn between compassion, anger, sorrow and empathy. This is where your nurse training enables you to support people.'


Paul Deacon

Sad event that triggered an interest in nursing as a career

Mr Deacon says a nursing career was the last thing he wanted to do as a teenager, despite his father being a mental health nurse.

It took an incident while working in a shop to change his mind.

‘The chap collapsed into the glass cabinet and he died instantly, though I didn’t realise at the time,’ he said.

‘But that played on my mind, I thought, “I could have done more”.’

Mr Deacon’s manager, a former charge nurse, encouraged him into the profession.

‘Months after, he would say “that’s really affecting you, why don’t you go into nursing?"'

Journey from nursing assistant to ward manager

Mr Deacon started out his career as a nursing assistant in Bodmin, Cornwall. He later became a mental health nurse and rose to the position of ward manager.

Mr Deacon said he hoped recounting his own experience would encourage other people who felt they had been ‘written off’ to consider a career in nursing.

‘This is possible, you can break down these barriers,’ he said.

‘There is a second chance in education.’

Walls and Bridges: Bodmin to Broadmoor will be available from 22 July.


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