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Charity exposes ‘domestic human rights scandal’

THOUSANDS of people with learning disabilities are being “locked up” in inpatient units away from their families in a “domestic human rights scandal,” a charity warned yesterday.

There are 2,295 adults and children with a learning disability and/or autism in mental health hospital units across England because of poor community-based support.

Mencap head of policy Dan Scorer said that the government has “failed to deliver on its promise to transform care” eight years since a BBC Panorama investigation exposed horrific abuse of patients in Winterbourne View hospital.

He added: “Thousands of vulnerable people are being detained in institutions, often hundreds of miles away from their families, subject to physical restraint, over-medication and being kept in isolation.

“Their families are powerless to get them out. This is a domestic human rights scandal.”

In February, there were more than 2,500 incidents of restrictive interventions such as physical restraint in units, with more than 800 of them involving children.

Isabelle Garnett, mother of 18-year-old Matthew, said her son spent 15 months being “over-medicated, secluded and restrained” and his mental and physical health “deteriorated catastrophically.”

She said: “Matthew thought he was in prison and, to us, it felt like he was being punished for being autistic.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said they were determined to reduce inpatient numbers by investing in specialist services and community crisis care and an in-depth review into the use of seclusion, segregation and restraint is being undertaken.

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