Photo of Jane Harris and supporters outside

 

Over 17,000 people have signed our open letter urging the Government to end the scandal of autistic people and people with a learning disability being inappropriately detained in inpatient units under the Mental Health Act.

The letter, which was addressed to Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, was written by the National Autistic Society, Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation. It calls on Government to set up an Independent Review into the treatment of autistic people and people with a learning disability under the Act.

The letter was delivered to the Department of Health and Social Care on 14 March by Jo Minchin and Phillip Hanscombe, from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism’s advisory group and Jane Harris, our Director of External Affairs.

A huge thank you to everyone who signed this letter and helped draw attention to this national scandal.

In a joint statement published in the letters section of today’s issue of The Times, Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society, Jan Tregelles, Chief Executive of Mencap and Viv Cooper, Founder of the Challenging Behaviour Foundation, said:“Neither autism nor learning disabilities are mental health conditions. Yet they are defined as mental disorders in the Act. This means that children and adults who are autistic or have a learning disability, particularly those who display behaviour described as challenging, can be 'sectioned' and detained even when they do not have a treatable mental health condition.

“Hospital wards are inappropriate for anyone without a treatable medical condition. They're likely to be noisy, bright and unpredictable and this leaves many autistic people and people with a learning disability feeling overwhelmed. This in turn can increase the risk of restraint, seclusion and over-medication.

We call on the Government to set up an Independent Review into the treatment of autistic people and people with a learning disability under the Act, which must involve autistic people, people with a learning disability, their families, as well as organisations and professionals. This national scandal must end.

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