Today, the Department of Health and Social Care published the findings from Baroness Sheila Hollins’s independent review into the cases of people with a learning disability and/or autism held in long-term segregation in modern-day asylums.
Baroness Hollins and an oversight panel conducted independent care and treatment reviews into 26 people out of 77 who were held in long-term segregation in inpatient units. Only four of the 26 people whose cases were reviewed had been discharged and around two thirds of people were still held in long-term segregation at the time the findings and recommendations were submitted.
Responding to the report on findings from these independent reviews and the Government’s response:
Dan Scorer, Head of Policy at the learning disability charity Mencap, said:
“The findings from this important report are extremely disturbing. Families sounded the alarm about the appalling treatment of their loved ones held in long-term segregation – this report highlights that these were far from isolated incidents.
“We welcome these recommendations to put a stop to this inhumane practice. It has taken the Government seven months to publish and respond to the report, but it must not waste any more time on acting on the recommendations. It is unacceptable that only four of the 26 people whose cases were reviewed had been discharged and that around two thirds of people were still held in long-term segregation at the time the findings and recommendations were submitted. This mirrors the wider slow pace of change in getting people out of these modern-day asylums for good – 2,075 people with a learning disability and/or autism are still locked away.
“The Government must publish its long-promised cross-government strategy on Transforming Care as soon as possible to drive this work forward, and its repeatedly delayed social care reforms must come with significant funding so people with a learning disability can get the support they need in their community. The Government must act now to put a stop to this scandal once and for all.”
Ryan, 32, is autistic and has been locked away for 15 years and held in long-term segregation for the last 4.5 years. He was one of 26 people with a learning disability and/or who are autistic held in long-term segregation who had an independent care and treatment review. He remains in long-term segregation today.
Sharon Clarke, mum to Ryan, said: “At age 17, things were bad for Ryan and he attempted to slit his wrists. As you can imagine I was very worried and called the crisis team (psychiatric services), though l wish l could go back, because this meant l would lose my son to the system for 15 years!
“At first l believed that psychiatric services would help my son, but l know now that isn’t the case. Ryan has been in forensic psychiatric hospitals for 11 years, though he’s never committed a crime, but is housed with people that have. My son has been restrained (resulting in a broken hand), has been secluded 2-3 times a week for a year, has had 18 teeth removed due to anti-psychotics. Ryan is still in long-term segregation and has been for the last 4.5 years.
“In 2018, he received a new diagnosis of autism, but there was still no release for my son. I have written to the hospital, talked to them, but l was ignored and now I'm taking anti-depressants. Last year, l decided to go on TV and tell my son’s story. As Ryan comes under the “Transforming Care” initiative now he has an autism diagnosis, things are starting to look brighter and Ryan is due for release in September 2021. Nobody in my position should have to get the media involved just for wanting the right care for their son.
“All those who have autism or a learning disability should not be sent to a psychiatric hospital, the environment couldn’t be more wrong for them. The detention of people who have autism or a learning disability is a national disgrace.”
Read Baroness Sheila Hollins’s letter to the then Health Secretary Matt Hancock, dated 18 December 2020, here.
Read the full report on findings from these independent reviews here.
Read the Government’s response to the report and its recommendations here.
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For further information or to arrange interviews, contact Mencap’s media team on:
- 020 7696 5414 (including out of hours).
Notes to editors
- Mencap has been campaigning with families on these issues since the abuse scandal at Winterbourne View ten years ago.
- Mencap is asking the Government to focus on:
- Developing local expertise, support and services
- Ensuring there is joint oversight and ownership of the national programme by the Ministers from the Department of Health and Social Care, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and Department for Education.
- Removing the red tape and funding barriers that are preventing so many people from returning home.
- A robust plan from leadership for cross-government working.
There are 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want. www.mencap.org.uk.
For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap’s Freephone Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 (10am-3pm, Monday-Friday) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is a learning disability?
- A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life;
- Learning disability is NOT a mental illness or a learning difficulty, such as dyslexia. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’;
- People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.