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A support group for the relatives and friends of patients at a special hospital in Merseyside, England, has been in operation for over 1 year A detailed evaluation of that group has been completed based on the minutes of each meeting and on a structured questionnaire sent out to each relative/friend involved The evaluation provides an illuminating account of the particular needs of this group, highlighting many of the concerns expressed by the Committee of Inquiry during the recent Public Inquiry at Ashworth Hospital The results of the evaluation are discussed in relation to work already completed on network support and mental health, as well as the recent work involving the relatives of patients in the community It provides a direction for future work and research within the special hospitals