End the abuse of autistic people & people with a learning disability in inpatient units

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The events witnessed in tonight’s Panorama ‘Hospital Abuse Scandal’ documentary, where vulnerable adults who are autistic or have a learning disability were abused and mistreated were truly shocking. This abuse must have no place in modern society. 

To watch the denial of vulnerable people’s human rights should be regarded as a national scandal but all the more so considering the Government has failed to stop the use of inpatient units such as Whorlton Hall, through its recently-ended Transforming Care programme.

This is not a question of money, or funding – millions of pounds are spent on keeping vulnerable children and adults locked up hundreds of miles from their homes. This is about where the money is spent and what kind of service it is spent on. Autism and learning disabilities are not a mental health conditions, and with the right use of this money on community services, these people would be in their homes, not in a mental health inpatient units.

The time has come for reviews and investigations to end. No more empty promises. No more warm words. 

We need action from the Government to stop the use of inpatient units and to safeguard the human rights of vulnerable adults who are autistic or have a learning disability. 

We call upon the Government to end the abuse and mistreatment of autistic people and people with a learning disability in inpatient units by committing to the following:

  • Declare that autistic people and people with a learning disability are #HumanToo and must have their human rights safeguarded
  • Immediately commit to make money available to set up the right community services for autistic people and people with a learning disability - and that this is ring-fenced
  • Change the wording of the definition of ‘mental disorder’ in the Mental Health Act, which currently includes autism and learning disability – whilst legally safeguarding ‘at risk’ individuals access to Care & Treatment Reviews
  • Establish accountability right across Government to make sure this happens

For information and support on this issue you can visit our website.

(Photo credit: BBC Panorama)