'An investigation by the Care Quality Commission discovered that a man with autism or learning disabilities has been locked up in solitary confinement for almost a decade after being sent to secure hospital units.
The watchdog’s inquiry, ordered by Health Secretary Matt Hancock after The Mail on Sunday exposed shocking treatment in secretive units, also found a child incarcerated alone for almost two and a half years.
The devastating report, due to be released on Tuesday, concludes ‘the system is not fit for purpose’ because people with autism and learning disabilities – many still children or teenagers – are being sent to unsuitable units often filled with untrained staff, where their conditions can worsen. The CQC accepts that this is a major human rights issue.
Its report admits the organisation was so disturbed by the evidence it saw that it plans to overhaul its own monitoring of units that use segregation.
The Health Secretary has agreed to two key recommendations: to order urgent reviews of the worst 120 cases of seclusion and segregation – reporting by the end of the year – and the establishment of an independent body to speed up discharges and improve the care system.
The new expert body, made up of doctors, patients, families and carers under a high-profile chair, will report directly to the Health Secretary and Simon Stevens, chief executive of National Health Service England. Another report tomorrow by the Children’s Commissioner will highlight the increase in children with autism or learning disabilities held in mental health hospitals, despite repeated government pledges to slash their numbers.
Mr Hancock said he had been ‘deeply moved’ by the plight of those locked in care and was determined to act on the CQC’s report, which calls for stronger safeguards against ‘punitive cultures of care’.
‘As a society, we’ve got a duty to get this right,’ he said. ‘Each of these cases is complex and hugely challenging. We’ve got to get the right care to each and every one of these vulnerable young people.'
Read more: Vulnerable man locked in solitary confinement for 10 YEARS: Horrifying case revealed in new report as Health Secretary is finally stung into action
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9 July 2019
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