Henderson Hospital was a national hospital and therapeutic community for people with complex personality disorders. The hospital began as a rehabilitation unit within the Belmont Hospital. The unit specialised in group therapy for soldiers displaying post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their experiences in the Second World War. Over time, the unit began to admit civilian patients who, as a result of childhood abuse, displayed similar symptoms to those of the soldiers. In 1959 the unit became a hospital in its own right, named after the Scottish psychiatrist Professor Sir David Henderson (1884-1965), author of the popular book, 'Psychopathic States'.
The Henderson became the first British hospital to develop a patient-orientated approach to the treatment of psychopathic disorders. Staff followed a therapeutic community model whereby those who had experienced trauma were seen to be best placed to offer support to other patients. At its height the hospital provided 100 beds for patients from all over the UK and, although the number of beds had reduced to under 30 by the twenty-first century, the service remained in-demand with an average six months wait for admission.
The Henderson was funded by the Department of Health’s National Specialist Commissioning Advisory Group until 2005 when funding was transferred to the five Primary Care Trusts local to the hospital. The complicated funding arrangements were put under strain by the Coalition Government’s austerity measures and funding began to dwindle. By the beginning of 2008 only five patients remained at the Henderson. The hospital was closed by January 2009, with the remaining patients transferred to the Cassel Hospital, Richmond.