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Father of autistic teenager's victory in battle for care changes

By Richard Guttridge | Walsall | Health | Published:

The father of a severely autistic teenage girl from Walsall has scored a major victory in his battle to put a stop to children being placed in mental health hospitals inappropriate for their needs.

Walsall Council placed a gagging order on Jeremy

A review, called by Health Secretary Matt Hancock after hearing about the treatment of 18-year-old Bethany, has proposed an end to detention of children and teenagers with autism or learning difficulties in secure hospitals when they do not have mental health issues.

The plight of Bethany made national headlines when her father Jeremy blew the whistle on the conditions she was being kept in at a secure unit in Northampton.

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The heartbroken father revealed how she was being fed through a small metal hatch, which he had been forced to kneel down at in order to talk to her.

Walsall Council had tried to silence the father before he won a High Court battle which meant he was free to speak out, highlighting his daughter's case and that of other children being kept in similar confinement on social media.

The leaked draft review has recommended wholesale changes including better care models, greater consideration of human rights and a "parental rights-based approach".

The father, who has asked only to be identified by his first name, said he had been encouraged by the review's findings.

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The 51-year-old former college lecturer said: "It is great to see NHS England recognise there are problems in the system.

"Obviously this leaked report has got to be finalised. What it will look like once it has gone through legal and due process I don't know but I hope there will be recognition from Matt Hancock, as he ordered the investigation, and relevant changes requested are made."

Jeremy spoke out after he felt Bethany's placement at St Andrews was harming her wellbeing rather than helping and that due to her condition, PDA (pathological demand avoidance), was becoming increasingly scared and anxious.

The devastated dad told how she was "falling apart in front of my eyes", forcing him to take action in a bid to end her suffering.

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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