Young people with learning disabilities are being driven to self-harm after being prevented from seeing their families during the coronavirus lockdown in breach of their human rights, a new report finds.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights warned that the situation for children and young people in mental health hospitals had reached the point of “severe crisis” during the pandemic due to unlawful blanket bans on visits, the suspension of routine inspections and the increased use of restraint and solitary confinement.
The report concluded that while young inpatients' human rights were already being breached before the pandemic, the coronavirus lockdown has put them at greater risk – and called on the NHS to instruct mental health hospitals to resume visits.
It highlighted cases in which young people had been driven to self-harm, including Eddie, a young man with a learning disability whose mother, Adele Green, had not been able to visit him since 14 March.
“When the lockdown came, it was quite quick in the sense that the hospital placed a blanket ban on anybody going in and anybody going out,” said Ms Green. “Within a week, with the fear and anxiety, he tried to take his own life, which really blew us away. We were mortified.”
The Committee is urging NHS England to write to all hospitals, including private ones, stating they must allow visits unless there is a specific reason relating to an individual case why it would not be safe, and said the Care Quality Commission (CQC) should be responsible for ensuring national guidance is followed.
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Source: The Independent, 12 June 2020