Bournewood carers’ safeguard criticism

The carers of an autistic man wrongfully detained in a psychiatric hospital in a landmark case have condemned plans in the
Mental Health Bill to provide safeguards for people in his position.

The carers of HL, who was detained in Bournewood hospital for five months in 1997 because he lacked the capacity to resist, said the plans would not close the so-called “Bournewood gap”.
Under the proposals, a care home or psychiatric hospital must seek authority to detain someone who lacks capacity from a council or primary care trust.

Councils and PCTs must appoint someone to represent the person detained, who will have the right to appeal to the Court of Protection. But the person might not receive a hearing for a year.

HL’s carers, who cannot be named, said the bill should have included the right for a person’s representative to refuse their admission to the care home or hospital.


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