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Death toll of autism and learning disability patients revealed

Fourteen patients with autism or learning disabilities have died since 2015 while detained in psychiatric facilities in Scotland, figures reveal. 

The statistics were released for the first time by Public Health Scotland (PHS) following a parliamentary question by Scottish Conservative MSP Alexander Burnett, who has campaigned to end the “national scandal” of otherwise healthy people being locked up for months or years due to a lack of community-based support. 

The PHS report does not detail the causes of death, but does show that seven of the deaths occurred in patients who had been resident at an inpatient psychiatric facility for between 91 and 365 days, with six (43%) in patients whose stay had exceeded at least one year. 

Rob Holland, acting director of the National Autistic Society Scotland, said the data was a “step forward in understanding the experience of autistic people and people with a learning disability within inpatient psychiatric facilities”.

He added: “While it does not shine a light on the reasons for the deaths it does highlight how almost all of those that died had been within institutional care for more than 30 days with 6 people having been there for more than a year.

“Hospitals are not homes and it adds further impetus to the Scottish Government’s ‘Coming Home’ strategy to reduce delayed discharge and support people to live in homes of their own choosing.”

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Source: The Herald, 18 May 2022


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