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Legal action over prolonged detention of girl resolved following mediation

Legal action brought by a father over his daughter’s prolonged detention has been resolved, including a claim for damages, following mediation.

Jeremy, the father and litigation friend of Bethany, issued proceedings in February this year challenging her detention at St Andrew’s Healthcare in Northampton from December 2016 to February 2019.

The claim was supported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

St Andrew’s Healthcare, Walsall Council, Walsall Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS England have apologised to Bethany and her parents.

An agreed public statement said: “At mediation on 25 September 2019, agreement was reached which has resolved matters, including the claim for damages, without the need for further litigation.

“St Andrew’s Healthcare and NHS England have accepted that the care provided to Bethany did not always comply with the Mental Health Act Code of Practice and the NICE Guidelines on managing violence and aggression. This affected her wellbeing and made it harder for her to return to live in the community.

“Walsall Council and NHS Walsall Clinical Commissioning Group have accepted that there were unfortunate delays in moving Bethany from what became an unsuitable placement for her."

The statement said St Andrew’s Healthcare and NHS England had put in place changes to improve the care of people with autistic spectrum disorder including:

a) New policies and systems for monitoring compliance with the MHA Code of Practice in relation to seclusion and long-term segregation; and

b) Improved equality training for staff.

It said that Walsall Council, Walsall CCG and NHS England were also working together to ensure Bethany moves to a bespoke community placement, planning for which had started.

“All of the Defendants take the care of people with learning disabilities very seriously and NHS England is currently finalising a review of Bethany’s care to look at what went wrong and what needs to happen to improve care for people with autistic spectrum disorder,” the statement added.

This review will be submitted to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care shortly.