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Autistic man facing abuse in mental health hospital must be given home ‘urgently’, NHS and council told

The NHS and a local council have been told to urgently find a home for a 28-year-old autistic man who is facing psychological and physical abuse within a mental health hospital, after an independent review of his care.

Nicholas Thornton has autism and learning disabilities and is currently being held in the Rochford mental health unit, in Essex, after a decade of being locked away in places not able to care for him adequately.

Now an independent safeguarding review into his care provided at the Essex hospital has ordered the local authority and NHS to find him a home in the community because his relationship with hospital staff has become so bad he is facing psychological and physical harm.

He is one of the 2,045 people with learning disabilities and autism trapped within inpatient units across England.

Mr Thornton has been in the unit, run by the Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT), since May this year. He is not under a mental health section, nor does he need mental health treatment, but he is unable to leave because the local authority has not agreed on a place into which he can be discharged.

EPUT is currently facing a public inquiry probing the deaths of 2,000 patients following multiple reviews since 2016 from coroners, the police and health ombudsman criticising the care within the hospital.

A safeguarding report into Mr Thornton’s situation, seen by The Independent and Channel Four News, revealed staff working in the Rochford hospital told investigators they cannot adequately care for Mr Thornton themselves as they are not trained in supporting patients with autism.

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Source: The Independent, 13 December 2023


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