Today the Care Quality Commission (CQC) published its report, "Out of Sight - Who Cares? Restraint, segregation and seclusion review."

CQC inspectors visited 43 hospital wards for people with a learning disability and/or autism, and specialist child and adolescent mental health wards, and other facilities.The CQC found that:

  • The length of time people spent in long-term segregation ranged from three days to 13 years
  • A lack of suitable care in the community was preventing the discharge of 60% of people it saw during its review
  • Some people in seclusion were not allowed to wear their own clothes, while others lacked a clean environment and crockery, cutlery and toilet paper

Edel Harris, chief executive of the learning disability charity Mencap, said:

“It is shocking but sadly not surprising that today’s CQC report found further evidence of the inhumane treatment of people who have a learning disability and/or autism within these modern-day asylums. For many years, Mencap, other disability groups and families have been calling for urgent, national, system change to put a stop once and for all to this domestic human rights scandal.   

“Over 2000 people who have a learning disability and/or autism continue to be locked away where they are at increased risk of abuse and neglect. In its review, the CQC found that some people had restrictions on accessing fresh air, others accessing a toilet and some individuals had been inappropriately physically restrained while in hospital. This is simply unacceptable.   

“People deserve to live in homes, not hospitals. The Government, NHS England and local authorities must urgently act on the recommendations of this report. We need the right community-based support to prevent people from being admitted to hospital in the first place and get those who are still locked away out of these appalling institutions.” 

Sharon, mother to Ryan who has autism and who is currently being held in an inpatient unit where he has experienced the use of physical restraint and seclusion, said:

“My son, Ryan, has suffered immensely through staff physically restraining him or putting him isolation while he has been in different inpatient units over the last 14 years. I hope that community settings will become the future for the most vulnerable in our society.

“Ryan has suffered greatly. On one occasion in 2017-2018, he was kept in solitary isolation for 4.5 months with no family contact. The hospital was brutal and nasty – and that’s just how they treated me. It is hell on earth for those trapped in this failing system. I count down the days until my son can come back home.”

Read the CQC's full report online here:

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For further information or to arrange interviews, contactMencap’smedia team on:


Notes to editors

About Mencap

There are 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK.Mencapworks 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.Mencapsupports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they

For advice and information about learning disability andMencapservices in your area, contactMencap’s FreephoneLearning Disability Helplineon 0808 808 1111 (9am-6pm, Monday-Friday) or  

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.