Tim Nicholls, Head of Influencing and Research at the National Autistic Society, said: “The appalling failures in care of patients at Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust shown in Channel 4’s Dispatches, including a young autistic woman who took her own life days after being discharged, is deeply distressing and concerning."
It comes only weeks after BBC Panorama uncovered shocking abuse of patients at the Edenfield Centre and is the latest in a long line of evidence of autistic people being failed in mental health hospitals. This cannot be allowed to continue – we will keep fighting to end this scandal for autistic people and their families.
Autism is not a mental health condition, but autistic people can develop mental health problems like anxiety or depression, and sometimes end up in crisis and admitted to hospital. Some autistic people can spend months or even years in hospitals, far from their families, and we continue to hear reports of poor autism understanding, abuse, overmedication, inappropriate restraint and seclusion.
The latest NHS data shows there are 1,205 autistic people in mental health hospitals in England. This is an increase from 2015 when autistic people made up 38% of the number in hospital – now it is 61%. This is unacceptable.
Government must reform mental health law as soon as possible, and provide urgent and meaningful funding for the social care system, so that autistic people get the support they need. It’s been more than a decade since Winterbourne View and this latest scandal begs the question – how many autistic people must be failed by the system before we see real change?
Our charity’s Autism Inpatient Mental Health Service offers advice and support to autistic people who have been detained in a mental health hospital or are at imminent risk of detention or re-detention in England, and their families. For more information, visit autism.org.uk.
Find out more about our Autism Inpatient Mental Health Service which offers advice and support to autistic people in England who have been detained in a mental health hospital or are at imminent risk of detention or re-detention, and their families.
Read our news story about the latest NHS data on the number of autistic people in mental health hospitals.