Column: Safeguarding vulnerable children and young people must be number one priority to protect their welfare

Autism Union welcomes The Care Quality Commission’s call for there to be an independent review of every person, inclusive of children, young people with autism and learning impairments, being held in segregated circumstances in mental health wards.

By Liesje Dusauzay
Tuesday, 25 June, 2019, 09:43
Sheffield Sparkle march to the town hall from Devonshire Green in 2017

Such a review should include matters of safeguarding, quality of care and planning discharges.

Autism Union, Sparkle Sheffield and Equalities and Human Rights UK had been repeatedly making representation on concerns, in regard to matters of restraint and the segregation of these vulnerable groupings to Government, as well as in regard to failings in securing care packages for children and young people’s release, calling for a review into mental health ward and aligned unit conditions, ‘patient’ experiences and agencies failings in policy and procedure. As well as breaches of the law.

The CQC’s subsequent and recently released interim report on seclusion and segregation, which was commissioned by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, confirmed what Autism Union, Sparkle Sheffield, Equalities and Human Rights UK and other services nationally had been seeking to draw attention to over longevity. Namely, that children as young as 11 years of age were being contained in segregated conditions for a year or more, including some young people, being segregated for in excess of a decade, which is absolutely scandalous, in our modern day Britain. Whilst agencies have been trying to give reasons for this abhorrent practice occurring the facts are, as Equalities and Human Rights UK (based in Sheffield) pointed out to the government, public authorities and private providers of health and social care services, have a duty under the Equality Act 2010 and the SEN Code of Practice and related legislation to give due regard to disabled people and their needs and to make adaptation to meet disabled people’s impairment needs and requirements.

Secluding and segregating children and young people with autism or with learning impairments is not an equality adaptation, it is a serious breach of their equality entitlements and human rights. Autism Union, will, alongside Sparkle Sheffield and Equalities and Human Rights UK and others, be reiterating to government, health and social care public authorities and private providers involved that safeguarding these vulnerable children and young people must be the number one priority along with protecting their welfare, wellbeing, equalities and rights.