PSYCHIATRIST Bertram Mandelbrote, who has died aged 87, revolutionised the care of patients at Oxford’s Littlemore mental hospital.

Born in South Africa, on October 22, 1923, he first came to Oxford – already a qualified doctor – as a Rhodes Scholar at Merton College in 1946.

After training as a psychiatrist, he was appointed as Physician Superintendent of the Horton Road and Coney Hill Hospitals in Gloucester aged 31.

The asylums, housing more than 1,500 patients, were said to be among the worst and most restrictive psychiatric hospitals in Britain.

But within six months, Dr Mandelbrote had turned them into open-door institutions at the heart of a network of outpatient referral, occupational therapy, and community care units in Gloucestershire.

In 1959, he returned to Oxford as Physician Superintendent of Littlemore Hospital, then a large Victorian asylum enclosed by gates and high walls.

Within six weeks, he transformed the regime, unlocking doors, mixing wards and taking nursing staff out of uniform.

At Littlemore, he established the Phoenix unit, treating patients using group therapy, and introduced generations of trainee psychiatrists to social psychiatric methods.

Dr John Robinson, a consultant at Littlemore, said his skill lay in “enlisting the resources at his disposal, especially human resources, fully and constructively for the benefit of patients.”

He added: “He was a remarkable psychiatrist and a kind man who was sensitive to the needs of other people.”

Dr Mandelbrote also established a league of friends at Littlemore.

Dr Stephen Wilson, at one time his senior registrar, said Dr Mandelbrote was a man “whose leadership qualities were rooted in taking and delegating responsibility, and trusting the people whom he had selected to do a good job.”

Dr Mandelbrote also served as a president of the Oxford branch of the British Medical Association and a member of the city’s Rotary Club, fundraising to set up community support for psychiatric care.

He organised a network of group homes and social housing for outpatients – work that lives on as Response, the main provider of residential care for mentally ill people in the county.

He also set up the Isis Centre for counselling and self-referral in Little Clarendon Street, Oxford, and The Ley Community, now in Yarnton, to help people overcome drug and alcohol addiction through drug-free treatment.

Dr Mandelbrote retired in 1988, moving to Summertown.

He continued to visit prisons and remand centres to assess people suffering from mental illness or addiction and, as chairman of the Elizabeth Casson Trust, he maintained links with the teaching of occupational therapists and nurses at Dorset House and Oxford Brookes University.

He married Kathleen Joyce Howard in November 1949, and is survived by her and two sons.