If you believe someone, whether yourself or someone else, is being neglected or unnecessarily or unfairly held in an Assessment & Treatment Unit (ATU), we could help. Our specialist human rights solicitors have years of experience in helping people to get the care and support they need.
When the system fails to protect autistic people and/or those with a learning disability, we know how stressful it can be trying to find answers or seek justice. Our expert team of human rights solicitors can help make sure that people get the care and support they need. We can also help you get answers from the local authority, Clinical Commissioning Group or NHS body that is responsible for their care.
We can help negotiate for a care package to be arranged in the community so that the person can live in a home, not a hospital.
What Are Assessment & Treatment Units?
Assessment and Treatment Units (or ATUs) are mental health inpatient settings where people who are autistic and/or have learning disabilities are held or ‘detained’. This is usually done in accordance with the Mental Health Act 1983 or the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
They may be there because their doctor or treating team is concerned about behaviours they may present with or about a mental health condition they may have. Sometimes, admission is a last resort when the community services break down and the person has no other place to go to. ATUs are supposed to be short-term secure placements, until the person can return home with a suitable care package to meet their needs.
Unfortunately, people can be detained for longer than needed, often for reasons such as a lack of community housing, a lack of suitable care provision, or lack of funding. There have also been many cases of incidents of abuse or neglect in units such as Winterbourne View or Whorlton Hall. Our specialist human rights solicitors have worked on many of these cases, helping people who:
Were inappropriately detained in an ATU
Were at threat of admission to an ATU
Were unlawfully held in an ATU because their local authority or Clinical Commissioning Group haven’t found them a suitable home
Received poor or inappropriate care during their stay at an ATU
Experienced human rights violations whilst in hospital
Were placed in a community placement that was unsuitable for their needs.
Were detained subject to a legal framework which is not the least restrictive to meet their needs
Have experienced a failure to draft or implement appropriate aftercare provision as owed by the duties in s117 of the Mental Health Act 1983.
We can also help when there’s a dispute about the person’s mental capacity to decide where to live or a dispute over where it is in the person’s best interests to live.
If you have concerns about a person who's being detained in an assessment or treatment unit, we can help.
How Can We Help?
We can give you and the person detained advice about how to make sure the courts provide the support and protection they need. We can help you navigate the complex procedures of the Court of Protection and the Administrative Court for judicial review. Our expert solicitors can also liaise with the courts for you.
We can represent you in the courts if you believe your local authority, Clinical Commissioning Group or NHS body has failed to provide suitable care and support. We also represent clients who’ve suffered breaches to their human rights within an ATU.
To help fight against the ill-treatment of people, we’ve started a
free ATU legal surgery. This will provide free advice and guidance for anyone concerned about a person in an ATU. We hope to make the system more accessible and easier to challenge for people and their families.
Our free legal clinic runs on the first Monday of every month and is open to any detained person or family member who're looking for legal advice on ATUs.
If your vulnerable family member or loved one is unlawfully kept in an ATU, or received inappropriate care, our expert solicitors can help. Call 0370 1500 100 to arrange a consultation.
Who Can We Help?
Our specialist human rights solicitors have helped many autistic people and/or those with a learning disability and their families or loved ones with issues they’ve experienced while detained in ATUs. We’re also regularly instructed by advocates, such as Independent Mental Health Advocates or Independent Mental Capacity Advocates to assist with cases.
How To Fund Your Case
If you’re concerned about a person’s care and treatment whilst detained in an ATU,
get in touch with our specialist solicitors and we’ll tell you how we can help.
Some people fund their own case with us, but many people can’t afford to. There are a few options if you don’t have the funds to pay:
legal aid funding if you’re financially eligible depending on the route of legal challenge In some cases non-means tested legal aid may be available
You can set up a crowdfunding campaign online where your friends and family can contribute money toward your case. This can also be a public campaign to raise funds more widely. We could help to publicise your case in so that you have the best chance of raising the funds needed.
Why Choose Irwin Mitchell?
Our expert human rights solicitors treat every client with sensitivity and respect. We can get to the heart of your problem and tailor our advice to get you the best outcome possible.
We understand you might not be able to afford legal help, which is why we offer legal aid for anyone who’s eligible. This means your legal costs are covered so we can take your case forward.
Some of our staff are trained in basic Makaton and are happy to make communication aids and easy-read documents as and when necessary. We work with our clients to find out the best methods for them and adapt our approach accordingly. Some of our solicitors have family members who are autistic or have disabilities, which gives us first hand insight into the difficulties you may be facing .
Our team has extensive experience of Court of Protection, judicial review and Human Rights Act claims. This experience gives us great insight when advising our clients who may be detained in ATUs.
We have offices up and down the UK, so we’re on hand to help wherever you need us.
We’re also very familiar with the current politics and controversy surrounding ATUs. We work closely with charities, families and those with lived experience to make sure their stories are heard. Some solicitors are also part of campaign groups advocating for homes not hospitals and we as a team support this.
Give us a call on 0370 1500 100 and speak with our human rights solicitors to find out how we can help.
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