Government responds to petition

The Government has officially responded to a petition calling to put a stop to the detention of people with autism and learning disabilities in Assessment and Treatment Units (ATUs).

Practices in ATUs includes the use of medication to sedate individuals, seclusion in padded cells, and physical face-down ‘prone restraint’ with the average stay being a shocking five-and-a-half-years.

After the petition reached 10,000 signatures, the Government issued a response which included: “We agree that people with autism and learning disabilities should not be inappropriately detained in mental health hospitals. People with learning disabilities and autism deserve the very best support and care to have the same opportunities to live full and rewarding lives as everyone else.”

It went on to add: “Furthermore, where people are admitted they can spend too long in hospital before appropriate support is available for them to be discharged causing distress to the individual and to their families.

“We acknowledge this and we remain committed to supporting people with learning disabilities and/or autism to live in the community, to ensure that they are only admitted to hospital when absolutely necessary, and to ensure that if they are admitted they can leave as soon as their treatment has finished.

“We will continue working to reduce the use of restrictive interventions and improve patient safety through improved monitoring and training across health and care services.”

While the response appears to be encouraging, the petition needs significantly more signatures to reach the 100,000 bench mark for this important issue to be debated in Parliament. It currently has nearly 20,000 signatures. Please join us in signing now!

View the full response and sign the petition here.

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