Here to help with questions relating to learning disability and its impact on family carers
Further to a posting a week ago citing two articles in the ‘i’ by journalist Ian Birrell, in which we observed that “Ian is clearly seething with rage, and we suspect and hope that he will not give up on this issue”, we can report that a further article by Ian appeared on Sunday 28th October (and with a slight reworking on the 29th Oct in the Monday edition of the ‘i’).
Please read the article: Ian reports that his citing the case of ‘Beth’ three weeks ago, prompted a response from the Health Secretary and Beth’s removal ‘from solitary’; but he has clearly been informed (by parents and family carers) of many others who have been ‘interned’ in hospitals and short-stay(?!) facilities. Ian describes their stories as Dickensian, and clearly feels that the agenda for change post-Winterbourne has failed.
At the conclusion he points to a wider societal failure: “The failures are shameful. It is fair to blame them on a lethal fusion of callousness and incompetence at both local and national level. We can point the finger at bureaucrats, commissioning groups, the health service, private firms, town halls and Westminster. We can bemoan silos in the public sector and power abuses. And we can seethe over inequality that pays carers £8.10 an hour while their bosses take home fortunes. Yet they reveal again something far more disturbing: a corrosive view in our society that people with autism and learning disabilities are not quite human. Just like the abuse on streets, the hate crimes, the school exclusions, the social ostracisation, the lack of jobs, the cuts, the needless early deaths in healthcare. As Mark Neary, a campaigner who fought in court to get his son with autism returned to his care, said to me: “If they are not quite human it becomes easy to legitimise doing not quite human things to them.” Once again, we see this exposed in the starkest light.“