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Autistic teenager was stuck on general hospital ward for months

An autistic girl aged 16 spent nearly seven months in a busy general hospital due to a lack of suitable children's mental health services in England.

The teenager, called Molly, spent about 200 days living in a side-room of a children's ward at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth. It is not a mental health unit.

Experts say a general hospital was not the right place for her, but she had nowhere else to go because of a lack of help in the community.

Agency mental health nurses were brought in because she needed constant, three-to-one observations to keep her safe. Her family says security guards were also often stationed outside her room.

Like many autistic people, Molly finds dealing with noise difficult. The clamour of the hospital overloaded her senses and her behaviour sometimes became challenging. She was restrained numerous times.

A spokesperson for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care System (ICS) said it was sorry Molly "did not receive care in an environment better suited to her needs", adding: "Molly's safety has always been our priority."

Campaigners describe the shortage of appropriate support for people with autism as a human rights crisis.

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Source: BBC News, 10 May 2023


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