This statement can be read below or listened to as part of this video:
Three members of the Rightful Lives Admin Team have, over the past four years, been part of Baroness Hollins’ Oversight Panel, tasked with looking at the use of solitary confinement in psychiatric hospitals.
We have heard some heart rending stories and been appalled at the ongoing human rights abuses suffered by autistic people and people with learning disabilities. Basic needs are simply not met, abuse is rife and people face being totally dehumanised by their experiences. And as fast as people leave solitary confinement, other people take their place.
We were pleased to be able to contribute to Baronesss Hollins’ report and recommendations and we made sure that people at the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and the CQC were aware of the abuse and injustice suffered by members of our community. We were also pleased to hear of the successes of the HOPE(S) program and the senior intervenor program, but there is now no guarantee that these powerful initiatives will continue. It seems that things that work are just abandoned.
Not for one minute had we envisaged that the Government’s response would be as ineffective and insulting as it has been. We were led to believe that the Department of Health and Social Care was taking this issue seriously.
As autistic people and family members, we are accustomed to being asked to share our knowledge and expertise only to have that ignored or watered down. We invested our time and energy in this work because the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care appointed a Peer with expertise to make recommendations for improvement. We expected Baroness Hollins, and therefore us as an Oversight Panel, to have our recommendations taken seriously. It seems that this government would rather throw money at delaying tactics than actually take any real action. Our concern remains with all the people who remain in solitary confinement because this government does not care enough to make the changes needed.
Not only has the government proved that they really don’t care, their response has merely given permission to hospitals, practitioners and commissioners to carry on as normal. All of this is so unfathomable when we know that care in the community is so much more cost effective and rights respecting.
Solitary confinement is toxic, inhuman and degrading and frequently in breach of international and domestic law and guidance. There is little or no accountability when services fail people. Quite frankly, we are furious that, with more people than ever subject to enforced isolation, the Government doesn’t appear to be in the least bit invested in doing what works.