Fresh hope for 'Patient A' as council find three bedroom house

Fresh hope for ‘Patient A’ as council find three bedroom house with a garden for autistic man, 24, who has been kept in a 423sq ft ‘box’ at a psychiatric unit since 2017 with his meals passed through a hatch

  • Social workers are considering moving Patient A, 24, into a three bedroom house
  • Patient A has been detained under the Mental Health Act since September 2017 
  • His complex needs include autism, learning disability and Tourette’s syndrome
  • He receives medication and meals through a hatch and he is recorded by CCTV 
  • His mother, Nicola, 50, said her son has ‘become completely institutionalised’  

A young man with autism who has been isolated in a small apartment in a private hospital for four years could soon move into a three bedroom home.

24-year-old Patient A has resided in the purpose-built unit at Cheadle Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester, since 2017 at a cost to the NHS of up to £20,000 a week.

He receives his meals and medication through a hatch and is kept under constant surveillance through CCTV.  

The man’s family have been lobbying healthcare bosses to move him into a house where he could be looked after by a care team, the Sunday Times revealed.

The three-bedroom house was visited by social workers from Liverpool city council last week.

Patient A’s mother Nicola, 50, has slammed the treatment of her autistic son who was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for young people and adults four years ago. He has been detained behind a hatch (pictured) in an old file room 

The secure 423 square foot apartment which features a garden – with a cycling track and trampoline – a snug room, lounge, bedroom and bathroom

The apartment is monitored round the clock by CCTV and is about the size of a large living room

Cheadle Hospital is run by private clinic the Priory Group. Its chief executive, Rebekah Cresswell, visited Patient A last Wednesday in order to ‘gain a better understanding of the situation and what actions are needed’.

She has offered to speak to his family and a meeting is due this month to discuss Patient A’s future.  

Last week, it was reported the young man’s mother Nicola, 50, was deeply unhappy with her son’s treatment plan, saying he is being kept in a 423sq ft ‘box’. He wakes up late every day, plays computer games and his meals are passed through a gap in the wooden hatch by staff, who leave him to eat alone.

Patient A, who also has a learning disability and Tourette’s syndrome, was detained under the Mental Health Act in September 2017.

He was admitted to a unit for patients with severe mental illness at the Countess of Chester Hospital at age 14 after he started regularly ‘lashing out’ at his grandparents, mother and brother.

Nicola says her son had a typical childhood up until around the age of 12. He was diagnosed as autistic aged seven, then later with Tourette’s and a learning disability.

By age 20, he was admitted to Mersey Lodge at Cheadle Royal Hospital and spends his time in a secure 423 square foot apartment that features a garden – with a cycling track and trampoline – a snug room, lounge, bedroom and bathroom.

The apartment is monitored round the clock by CCTV and is about the size of a large living room.

In a CQC report published in November, Cheadle Royal Hospital was given the overall summary that it ‘required improvement’ and it was also ranked ‘inadequate’ by inspectors on safety.

Nicola wants Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group and Liverpool City Council to help work towards providing a community placement

Nicola said her son wakes up late every day, spends most of his time on computer games and his meals are passed through a gap in the wooden hatch by staff

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Nicola said: ‘Sometimes I have to get out of there just so I can breathe.

‘Being in that box isn’t right for his autism. The only thing he has to look forward to in life is the things I give him. A PlayStation. A mobile phone. Films. Takeaways. Every room he enters, they are watching him on a monitor. That’s no life for a 24-year-old.’

During the visits with her son, Nicola ‘dreads’ going into the viewing room where she sits on a chair and speaks to her son through an ‘eight-inch gap underneath a Perspex screen’ because she is faced with the ‘reality’ of her son’s situation.

Nicola, from Liverpool, is preparing to launch a legal battle in the Court of Protection to have him released from his ‘life in a box’.

In a CQC report published in November, Cheadle Royal Hospital was given the overall summary that it ‘required improvement’ and it was also ranked ‘inadequate’ by inspectors on safety

She wants a judge to review his sectioning under the Mental Health Act and provide a route to a proper home in the community.

The NHS Transforming Care agenda, established in 2015, aims to take autistic people and those with learning disabilities out of long-term hospital placements and into the community. The Priory has stated it is committed to the process and that Ms Cresswell had been ‘fully involved’ in reviewing the concerns of Patient A’s family.

NHS Liverpool clinical commissioning group, which funds Patient A’s care, said it could not comment on individual cases.

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