AUTIS­TIC MAN GIVEN 20 DAYS TO LEAVE HOSPI­TAL AF­TER BE­ING LOCKED IN FOR 10 YEARS

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - FEATURES -

It is just dis­gust­ing,’ said Pam, 75, a re­tired hospi­tal su­per­vi­sor from Brighton. ‘They have held my son for 19 years and now they are kick­ing him out be­cause they are wor­ried about their image.’

A man with autism held in a pri­vately op­er­ated se­cure hospi­tal for al­most two decades has been given 20 days’ no­tice to leave af­ter his fam­ily spoke about his case to The Mail on Sun­day.

Pam Hick­mott says she went to see her son Tony at Cedar House, a 40-bed unit near Can­ter­bury, Kent, last Thurs­day only to be told that its owner the Hun­ter­combe Group was or­der­ing the NHS to find him a new home.

She claims the sole rea­son given was that Tony’s name had been re­ported in this news­pa­per ‘which was against his hu­man rights’.

Our most re­cent men­tion of his case dis­closed that the 42-year-old had been held in seg­re­ga­tion for al­most a decade.

‘It is just dis­gust­ing,’ said Pam, 75, a re­tired hospi­tal su­per­vi­sor from Brighton. ‘they have held my son for 19 years and now they are kick­ing him out be­cause they are wor­ried about their image.’

The firm later claimed the move was also down to Cedar House no longer be­ing an ap­pro­pri­ate place­ment. A source said the no­tice pe­riod was ‘ne­go­tiable.’

Tony’s case was high­lighted in this pa­per’s cam­paign against abu­sive de­ten­tion of peo­ple with autism and learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties, which has ex­posed long-term use of soli­tary con­fine­ment, forced se­da­tion and feed­ing of pa­tients through hatches.

It is es­ti­mated his in­car­cer­a­tion alone has cost tax­pay­ers more than £10 mil­lion. Cam­paign­ers ar­gue that sup­ported care in the com­mu­nity can be cheaper, kin­der and far more ef­fec­tive. His fam­ily is now con­sid­er­ing le­gal ac­tion.

‘Giv­ing 20 days’ no­tice is ir­re­spon­si­ble and un­rea­son­able,’ said the fam­ily’s bar­ris­ter Oliver Lewis. ‘hun­ter­combe’s de­ci­sion can­not pos­si­bly be in Tony’s best in­ter­ests.’

Dun­can Bell, a spokesman for Dimensions, which as­sists com­mu­nity place­ments, con­firmed that moves out of treat­ment units need care­ful plan­ning. ‘it can take up to 12 months to put the right ar­range­ments in place,’ he said. The Care Qual­ity Com­mis­sion watch­dog has or­dered an in­quiry into this news­pa­per’s dis­clo­sure last week that one of its se­nior in­spec­tors re­signed af­ter a highly crit­i­cal report on 17-bed Whorl­ton Hall in Durham was not pub­lished.

Ten work­ers at the pri­vately run unit were ar­rested af­ter the BBC’S Panorama pro­gramme showed pa­tients be­ing mocked, in­tim­i­dated and vi­o­lently re­strained.

Hun­ter­combe said it could not com­ment on in­di­vid­ual cases but added: ‘Our po­si­tion has al­ways been that peo­ple with a learn­ing dis­abil­ity should only be in hospi­tal when ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary.’

Tony Hick­mott (Pic­tured), who has autism, has been given just 20 days to leave a se­cure hospi­tal in Kent where he has lived for 10 years

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