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ATUs…Chair of Joint Committee on Human Rights writes to Health Secretary

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR), having initially launched a wider inquiry into the detention of young people, is now conducting two separate, more focused, and inter-related inquiries into the detention of people with learning disabilities and or autism in mental health and NHS inpatient facilities.

To quote  the JCHR website:

  • “As a result of evidence arising from its inquiry into youth detention: solitary confinement and restrain, the Committee has taken evidence on the inappropriate detention of children and young people with learning disabilities and/or autism in mental health hospitals and the threat that such placements pose to their human rights.”

  • “As part of its inquiry into detention, the Joint Committee on Human Rights will hold two evidence sessions about the treatment of people with learning disabilities and autism in Assessment and Treatment Units (ATUs) and other inpatient units.”

The two evidence sessions referred to took place on 12th December (transcript here), and a few days ago on the 9th January (transcript here). The sessions were also broadcast on Parliament TV and should be available on catch-up. 

If you read or listen to the transcripts (follow the  links above), it is clear that members of the committee now have a range of concerns. In the latest session,  Dr Paul Lelliott, Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals (and lead for mental health) at  Care Quality Commission (CQC) was questioned intensively on regulatory standards and procedures, and especially reporting standards and data collection (See especially his responses to questions on current ‘systems’ for the reporting of instances of ‘restraint’).

Prior to the January evidence session, the Chair of the Committee wrote to the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, expressing her concerns on its finding to date. The Minister was asked to reply to the questions raised, on current funding policies and their consequences, by the 21st January.

The Committee now also wishes to ensure that “others have an opportunity to submit written evidence

The questions of interest are:

  • Whether the Government’s Transforming Care programme, which aims to significantly reduce the number of those detained inappropriately, has been successful and if not, why not.
  • If it has not been successful what needs to be done to ensure that the numbers detained are reduced more rapidly.
  • Whether the human rights of children and young people with learning disabilities and/or autism who are detained in mental health hospitals are being breached.
  • If, so how are they breached and what needs to be done to better protect them?

Submissions should be no more than 1,500 words and received by Friday 8 February. 

Details of how to make a submission are on the Committee web-page .

This news post should be read in conjunction with recent blog posts on this web-site the same issue…

(Note. This post has been republished due to formatting error in previous version created using new Text Editor plug-in)

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