Family plea to free teen from ‘torture hospital’
Hundreds back campaign after condition ‘deteriorates’
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’.