Serious case review granted over treatment of man at Bournewood

The carers of the severely autistic man at the centre of the landmark Bournewood judgment have won their fight for a serious case review into his treatment while illegally detained at the former Surrey hospital.

The carers, who cannot be named for legal reasons, claim the man, known as HL, looked like “someone out of Belsen” when they collected him in December 1997 following a five-month spell at Bournewood Hospital.

They wrote to Surrey’s adult protection committee in August 2005 asking for an independent review into HL’s treatment, and heard last week that it would go ahead, although the review’s membership and terms of reference have still to be confirmed.

One of his carers told Community Care they were “very pleased” with the news.

She said: “At last there is a real opportunity for a properly independent investigation into the way he was treated during his detention, what happened to him and how it was allowed to happen.”

Community Care told in July  how HL’s body was dotted with wounds when he left Bournewood and how he had blackened toenails, allegedly the result of staff standing on his feet to restrain him.

The serious case review is the latest in a series of battles fought by the carers to get justice for HL since his detention in 1997 (see Bournewood timeline).

His carer said she did not mind if the serious care review took a “lifetime” as long as it was thorough.

A Surrey Council spokesperson confirmed the review would take place under multi-agency procedures but was unable to provide any more details at this stage.

Bournewood timeline
● July 1997 – HL taken to Bournewood after an outburst at day centre.
● December 1997 – released from hospital after Appeal Court rules he was detained illegally.
● October 2004 – European Court of Human Rights rules HL was unlawfully deprived of his liberty.
● October 2006 – serious case review into allegations of abuse announced.

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