Father reveals that his autistic teenage daughter is locked in a ‘cell’ 24 hours a day with no physical contact and fed ‘like a vicious dog’ as he says ‘she’s not an animal’
- Autistic teenager Bethany, 18, has been locked in a ‘cell’ for almost three years
- Father Jeremy says he has not seen her for weeks and her care is ‘inappropriate’
- He took NHS care providers to court over Beth’s 24-hour-a-day confinement
- St Andrew’s Healthcare in Northampton accepted that her treatment was not up to standard and ordered a review of the case
The father of an autistic girl locked up in a ‘cell’ for more than two years without physical contact has demanded that changes be made to stop his daughter being treated like an ‘animal’.
Jeremy, who would not give his full name in order to protect his daughter Bethany’s identity, said she was detained under the Mental Health Act back when she was 15.
Now 18, the conditions she is living in are ‘worse’ than before, according to her distraught father, and include 24-hour seclusion in a locked room with ‘incredibly bright lights’ and food being slid in ‘like she was an animal’.
But after watching her suffer in the system, Jeremy has taken the NHS to court and spoken out about his daughter’s treatment by St Andrew’s Healthcare in Northampton.
Bethany, now 18, was detained under the Mental Health Act back when she was 15. She had only gone to the hospital for a ‘reassessment’ of her autism after her community placement broke down, but ‘within a week she was locked away’
‘If I’d known it was going to be the last time I wouldn’t have let her go. Now to sit and talk to her through a thick Perspex window, we can’t even have a proper conversation. She begs to have her hand held,’ he told Sky News.
Bethany is locked in what Jeremy describes as a ‘cell’, 10ft wide and 15ft long. The only furniture is a ‘four-inch-thick mattress’, and no access to ‘fresh air’.
Jeremy’s major concern from the start was that the conditions were totally unsuitable to his daughter, who needs to be ‘somewhere calm’ to reduce her stress. Instead, standing on the ward you mostly hear the loud noises of other distressed patients.
‘When it comes to feeding Beth, Beth has to move to the end of the room, sit on the floor behind a line. Only then will they open the door and slide her food in and lock the door again. That’s like feeding a vicious dog. My daughter is not an animal,’ said Jeremy.
She had only gone to the hospital for a ‘reassessment’ of her autism after her community placement broke down, but ‘within a week she was locked away’.
Angered by the ‘abuse’ she was continuing to suffer, Jeremy took NHS England, St Andrew’s Healthcare and his local council to court.
Jeremy took the NHS and his local authority to court and has now spoken out about his daughter’s treatment by St Andrew’s Healthcare in Northampton
The case was settled out of court with all parties accepting that Bethany’s care was inappropriate.
A joint statement read: ‘St Andrew’s Healthcare and NHS England have accepted that the care provided to Bethany did not always comply with the Mental Health Act Code of Practice and the NICE Guidelines on managing violence and aggression.
‘This affected her wellbeing and made it harder for her to return to live in the community.’
Walsall Council and Clinical Commissioning Group admitted that there were ‘unfortunate delays in moving Bethany from what became an unsuitable placement for her’.
However, Jeremy says that nothing has since changed in Bethany’s circumstances, but that she is ‘encouraged’ by the support she has received from campaigners fighting the government for changes to her conditions.
A report on the failures in Bethany’s case, which makes more than 80 recommendations, is now with Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
‘There have been so many reviews and recommendations, just placated with review after review. That needs to stop. Matt Hancock needs to make those changes that his report says are needed,’ said Jeremy.
There are currently 2,250 people with a learning disability or autism from England in units, 235 of them are under the age of 18.