People with learning disabilities continue to receive inadequate care and support in inpatient settings.

An autistic man has been detained in an inpatient unit for 21 years.

On the 24th November 2021 the BBC reported that an autistic man has been detained in an inpatient unit for 21 years after being sectioned under the Mental Health Act. The article stated that  

Mr Hickmott was finally declared “fit for discharge” by psychiatrists in 2013, but he is still waiting for the authorities to find him a suitable home with the right level of care for his needs.’  

His family shared that 

“If he’d murdered someone he’d be out now. He’s lost his family, he’s lost his home,” says his mother Pam, who is 81. “He’s just a shadow of the human he used to be. There are so many families like us – crying and screaming. We are our children’s voices.” 

 100 people held more than 20 years in ‘institutions’ – BBC News

Tony is not the only person to have been in hospital a long period of time and the BBC reported that ‘one hundred people with learning disabilities and autism in England have been in specialist hospitals at least 20 years’.   

This story is further evidence that there has been a significant lack of progress in meeting the targets set out in Transforming Care to reduce the number of children and adults in inpatient settings. Building the Right Support is a ‘national plan to develop community services and close inpatient facilities for people with a learning disability and/or autism who display behaviour that challenges, including those with a mental health condition’. Building the right plan ( 

It is not acceptable that people, like Tony who have been declared ‘fit for discharge’ continue to be staying long periods in hospital settings.    

Further concerns around care in inpatient settings was revealed in November when CQC published an inadequate inspection rating for several services provided by St Andrews Healthcare. 

St Andrews Healthcare has been in special measures since 10th June 2020. On the 10th November 2021 the CQC published its inspection report from inspections that took place in July/August 2021. This resulted in a further inadequate rating for several services offered by this hospital including the three women’s learning disability and autism wards, and St Andrews is currently not allowed to admit new patients without CQC approval. 

The report revealed high levels of restrictive intervention including incidents of physical and prone restraint, chemical restraint, seclusion and long-term segregation being used. Furthermore, numerous serious staffing issues including a lack of medical staff and evidence of closed cultures were reported. To read the full report: St Andrew’s Healthcare – Womens Service (10/11/2021) Inspection report ( 

Over 10 years after the abuse was exposed at Winterbourne View, the promised transformation of care has not been delivered and the significant consequences are felt by children, young people and adults and their families every day.   After an inexplicable 2 year delay the Building The Right Support independent evaluation was published by NHSE this week. The findings in the evaluation must feed into national and regional urgent actions to ensure children and adults with learning disabilities get the right support in the right place at the right time and have good quality lives.    

BTRS Reports published – Challenging Behaviour Foundation 

Support from the CBF 

Family Support Service 

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this statement, you can call the Family Support Service on 0300 666 0126 

Or email us at 

We are open at the following times: 

Monday – Thursday: 9am – 5pm 

Friday: 9am – 3pm 

We offer information about challenging behaviour to anyone who provides support to a child, young person or adult with a severe learning disability. We can also signpost you to other specialist organisations and sources of information. 

Please note we are a small support service so you may not be able to get support straight away. We will support families with urgent concerns as a priority. 

Professionals are also welcome to contact the CBF.

Resources on our website 

Please consult the following information section on our website, for information sheets and signposting: 

What to do when things go wrong 

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