More Than 2,000 People Still Detained in Hospitals Also Known As Assessment And Treatment Units
The mum of a man with autism, who has been detained in a mental health hospital for 13 years, has instructed specialist lawyers to investigate his care.
Sharon Clarke, from Adwick-le-Street, Doncaster, has asked Irwin Mitchell’s public law and human rights team to look into the care her son Ryan Addison has received.
Ryan, who has diagnoses of autism, psychosis and mild learning disabilities, was detained in a mental health hospital – also known as an assessment and treatment unit (ATU) – in 2006. Although he has been in hospital for 13 years, this has included nine years in forensic services.
For the last three-and-a-half years the 31-year-old has been in long-term segregation and is regularly in seclusion in a unit at the Humber Centre in Hull. The time he spends in seclusion can vary but has been up to four-and-a-half months. He presently stays in a bare room and does not interact with others.
As a result Sharon, 61, fears that her son’s physical and mental health is deteriorating and he is not receiving appropriate care for his condition. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ryan has also been self-harming more and injuring his face.
She wants her son to be taken out of long-term segregation and wants assessments to be carried out to find a suitable package of care in the community for Ryan.
Irwin Mitchell has been instructed to act on behalf of Ryan through Sharon as his litigation friend on a potential legal challenge to involve the local authority, NHS trust and clinical commissioning group who will all be responsible for a community package.
Expert Opinion“Despite previous government pledges to reduce the number of people with a learning disability being detained in ATUs, the issue of them being so is once again in the spotlight.
“More than 2,000 adults and children with learning disabilities and or autistic people are detained in secure mental health units. We believe many are denied the right to a home and a family life that keeps them well.
“The first-hand account we have heard from Sharon about what has happened to her son is very worrying and we are now investigating these concerns. Understandably all Sharon wants is what’s best for her son; therefore, we have applied to the court for a full assessment of Ryan’s needs to be carried out and to put in place a suitable community care package.
“We call on the local authority, Health Trust and CCG to work with the family so Ryan can live as independently as possible and thrive in the community.
“Ideally Sharon would love for Ryan to be provided with a community care package that reflects his needs so he can be closer to his family. The family feel that this would give him the best quality of life.” Kirsty Stuart - Senior Associate Solicitor
Sharon, who is litigation friend for her son Ryan, has told Ryan’s legal team that she worries her son’s basic needs are not being met at present.
She said after her son had 14 teeth removed he was given false teeth. However, he lost these 18 months ago and they have yet to be replaced.
Sharon says her worries over her son’s condition have been heightened by the Covid-19 pandemic as she had been unable to see him until June.
She said: “It took five weeks for me to be able to Skype Ryan and even on Skype calls you can see how Ryan’s condition is getting worse. At least before lockdown he would see me but now he has nothing. He doesn’t get to see anyone at all now.
“For years we have been asking for more to be done to help Ryan but we feel that every time we ask not enough gets done.
“We feel that we have been left with no choice other than to take this course.
“It’s heart-breaking to see Ryan the way he is. At the minute he just exists. He doesn’t have any quality of life and we only worry that things will get worse if nothing is done.
“All we want is for his needs to be fully assessed and the most suitable care package given to him so he can make the most of life.”
At the end of June 2,085 people with autism and/or a learning disability were in ATUs, according to NHS Digital figures.
In May 2019 Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced an independent review of patients in segregation and the care they received.
It followed an interim review into the use of restraint, segregation and prolonged seclusion in the health and care sector, published by the Care Quality Commission which described the system as “not fit for purpose”.
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in helping the families of people detained in mental health care at our protecting your rights section. Alternatively to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.