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Autistic man was 'loneliest man in the hospital'


A whistle-blower in the case of an autistic man who has been detained in hospital since 2001 says he feels complicit in his "neglect and abuse".

A BBC investigation found 100 people with learning disabilities have been held in specialist hospitals for 20 years or more, including Tony Hickmott. His parents are fighting to get him rehoused in the community.

A support worker at a hospital where Mr Hickmott has been detained said he was the "loneliest man in the hospital".

Mr Hickmott was sectioned under the Mental Health Act in 2001. His parents, Pam and Roy Hickmott, were told he would be treated for nine months, and then he would be able to return home.

He is now 44 - and although he was declared "fit for discharge" by psychiatrists in 2013, he is still waiting for authorities to find him a suitable home with the right level of care for his needs.

Following the report, Phil Devine, who worked in the hospital as a cleaner and a support worker, came forward to talk about conditions at the hospital. 

Mr Devine said only Mr Hickmott's basic needs were met. "Almost like an animal, he was fed, watered and cleaned. If anything happened beyond that, wonderful, but if it didn't, then it was still okay."

In 2020, the hospital was put into special measures because it did not always "meet the needs of complex patients". A report highlighted high levels of restraint and overuse of medication, a lack of qualified and competent staff and an increase of violence on many wards.

The hospital has now been taken out of special measures but still "requires improvement", according to the Care Quality Commission.

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Source: BBC News, 


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