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Report into autistic teen locked up in ‘cell’ highlights failings | UK News



A report into the care of a teenager with autism has highlighted a number of failings into her care and made a “comprehensive list of improvements required to support children like Beth”. 

The report was commissioned by Health Secretary Matt Hancock after Beth’s case caused a public outcry.

The 18-year-old woman is locked up in a mental health unit in solitary confinement in a room described by her father Jeremy as a “cell”.

A report has found a system that requires significant change

The report was produced by a NHS oversight group (OG) that said: “The OG has considered Beth’s case in detail and found a system that requires significant change and in fact a paradigm shift in terms of approach.”

It goes on to add: “There is nothing new in this report in that such findings have been previously identified across a range of other reports and reviews.

“The headline improvements have been identified to fundamentally change the system rather than deliver a further review.”

This finding echoes what Jeremy and other campaigners have said repeatedly.

The disgraceful practice of locking up autistic people and people with learning disabilities in mental health units was exposed in 2011 following the Winterbourne abuse scandal.

Since then, repeated governments and ministers have made promises to families whose loved ones have been failed by the state.

The report into Beth’s situation says one of the reasons why so many young people end up in mental health units is the lack of community support.

It said: “At the heart of Beth’s case is the lack of appropriate home-like community provision with skilled staff to support her to live a fuller life.

“In the absence of such provision, children like Beth are hospitalised and LA (local authority) or NHS commissioners genuinely struggle to find alternatives that can meet their needs.”

Beth is now locked up in isolation for 24 hours a day without any human contact. Her meals are served to her by sliding a tray across the floor to where she has to remain seated.

The review says this practice must end.

Autistic teenager Bethany spent two years in a ‘seclusion room’ in hospital. Her family fought for her to get out – but her new care has been described as ‘horrific’.

‘My autistic daughter is locked in a cell’

“The use of seclusion for children and young people with autism should be an exceptional event subject to individual review for every use.”

It calls for a national policy to ensure that seclusion is only utilised for children and young people as a last resort.

Last week a joint committee for human rights published a scathing report into the care of autistic people with autism and/or learning difficulties.

One of its key recommendations is a revision to the Mental Health Act to ensure autistic people and those with learning difficulties are not detained in units not equipped to cope with their specific needs.

It said: “No children with autism should be admitted to a mental health hospital in the absence of a mental health needed therefore with a clear therapeutic intent and expected outcomes.”

The Department of Health and Social Care on Tuesday announced a number of measures to improve the care of autistic people in care.

They included better training for staff and the need for a discharge plan for each one of the 2,250 people with autism or learning disability trapped in care.

Beth is in isolation for 24 hours a day without any human contact

Speaking about the government’s intentions, care minister Caroline Dinenage offered an apology to Beth’s father Jeremy.

He said: “My response to the apology is, I don’t accept it. That apology needs to go first of all to my daughter, not me – but also to all the other patients and their families, those who are still locked in similar situations to my daughter’s.

“That report, if it does come out, included 82 different recommendations for changes in the system. Why were they not part of Matt Hancock’s “fake news” this morning? Those are important changes, not changes to things that already exist.”

“Bethany is locked away in a cell. She can’t have any human contact and she isn’t getting any support. Bethany is not in a good place at all.”

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