Fam­ily plea to free teen from ‘tor­ture hospital’

Hun­dreds back cam­paign af­ter con­di­tion ‘de­te­ri­o­rates’

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Kather­ine Clemen­tine kather­ine.clemen­tine@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

MORE than 1,000 peo­ple have signed a pe­ti­tion to sup­port a West Drayton fam­ily’s plea to get their daugh­ter out of a ‘tor­ture’ se­cure hospital.

So­phie Winn, 21, has been ‘in­sti­tu­tion­alised’ at St An­drews Psy­chi­atric Hospital, in Northamp­ton, since Septem­ber 2014, and her wor­ried fam­ily say her con­di­tion has rapidly de­te­ri­o­rated since.

So­phie was sec­tioned un­der the Men­tal Health Act af­ter years of be­ing passed from pil­lar to post, mis-di­ag­no­sis and up­heaval.

She has been in 15 dif­fer­ent es­tab­lish­ments in six years, with di­ag­noses rang­ing from bi-po­lar and per­son­al­ity disor­der to autism and de­pres­sion, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for fam­ily to give her the ‘con­stant sup­port that teenagers need and crave’.

Louise Gibbs, So­phie’s mother, said: “What might work for some peo­ple, won’t work for ev­ery­one else.

“In other units, she’s been al­lowed out and has been hap­pier – but here, she doesn’t want to get up as she’s got noth­ing to do and most of the time she’ll just sit there and not be in­volved with any­one as she’s so down and de­pressed. She just can’t see any light now.”

So­phie’s men­tal state be­gan to de­cline as a teenager when she at­tended Chantry School, in West Drayton, a Foun­da­tion spe­cial school, which pro­vides for pupils who have be­havioural, emo­tional and so­cial dif­fi­cul­ties (BESD).

The trou­bled teen got in­volved in the ‘wrong crowds’ and has been stuck in a re­volv­ing door since. Since her move to St An­drews, she was ac­ci­den­tally given an over­dose of her med­i­ca­tion (beta block­ers) by nurs­ing staff and had to be hos­pi­talised in April 2015.

‘Car­ing and an­i­mal-lov­ing’ So­phie has tried to take her own life twice.

Ms Gibbs added: “There seems to be no struc­tured health­care to treat and as­sist her re­cov­ery.

“In fact, the only struc­ture there seems to be in place is to se­date pa­tients to a level of in­com­pre­hen­sion, to keep peo­ple ‘quiet’.

“Her treat­ment has been bru­tal and has had a detri­men­tal ef­fect on So­phie’s mind and well­be­ing.”

St An­drews is known to house con­victed crim­i­nals, but So­phie was placed there as it was ‘ the best place for her con­di­tion’, de­spite her not be­ing there to serve a crim­i­nal sen­tence.

Ms Gibbs added: “St An­drews is tor­ture, I’ve never known a place like it.

“She has no ac­cess to the in­ter­net, she has no mo­bile phone, she’s just cut off. It can’t do any­one any good be­ing locked up like that.”

The dis­tressed mum has had to leave work due to the stress and anx­i­ety of So­phie’s situation, but vis­its her daugh­ter on week­ends, de­spite the long trip from West Drayton to Northamp­ton.

A spokesper­son from St Andrew’s Health­care said: “We sup­port vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple and have a duty of care which we take very se­ri­ously.

“An im­por­tant part of this is re­spect­ing pa­tients’ con­fi­den­tial­ity.

“For this rea­son we never com­ment on whether some­one is or has been a pa­tient at St Andrew’s Health­care.”

Cousin Candice McKen­zie has set up a pe­ti­tion to prime min­is­ter David Cameron to ‘get So­phie out of St An­drews and back to her fam­ily’, which has so far at­tracted more than 1,000 sig­na­tures and mes­sages from well-wish­ers.

Ms McKen­zie, who lived with So­phie when she was out in the com­mu­nity, said: “She needs her fam­ily around her.

“We’re not say­ing we need her out of hospital but she needs to be closer to home so she has the sup­port closer to her.

“I think it’s at the point where she’s in­sti­tu­tion­alised. She’s been in so many places that haven’t helped.

“If she was at a unit that was less se­cure, we could go and see her and sup­port her – just a cud­dle from your mum when you’re feel­ing down, you know? She’s not al­lowed any of that.”

If you’d like to find out more about So­phie, of­fer sup­port or sign her pe­ti­tion, join her pub­lic Face­book group ‘Sup­port So­phie’.


So­phie Winn

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