High Court Ruling over boy detained in Greater Manchester hospital highlights ‘acute’ lack of care placements

The detention of a 12-year-old boy with “complex medical and behavioural issues” at a hospital in Wigan highlights “an acute lack of appropriate resources for vulnerable children”, a High Court judge has said.

He said: “It would border on the obscene to use a protective jurisdiction to continue the boy’s current bleak and dangerous situation simply because those with responsibility for making proper provision for vulnerable children in this jurisdiction have failed to discharge that responsibility.”

The child, known as Y, was physically and chemically restrained in hospital last month and, at points, was handcuffed and guarded by as many as 13 police officers, the court heard.

Other seriously ill children were moved to alternative hospitals across the north west of England due to the disruption and elective surgeries were cancelled.

Judge Mr Justice MacDonald, who overturned an order authorising the deprivation of the boy’s liberty on the ward, said that he demonstrates “challenging, violent and increasingly self-harming behaviour”. 

He has been diagnosed with epilepsy and “it is possible, although not definitively established” that he also has ADHD and autistic spectrum disorder.

The boy, who has been known to children’s services since 2011,  was taken to A&E after attempting to harm himself and threatening suicide at his children’s home, the court was told.

“On arrival of the child and adolescent mental health services (CAHMS) practitioner at the emergency department Y was in full restraint with several police officers and staff. His legs were strapped together and his face covered with a guard to prevent him from spitting and biting. On the advice from the CAMHS practitioner, Y was given IV lorazepam following a discussion with the psychiatric consultant. Y was admitted to a paediatric ward,” the judge said.

Three days after his admission, Wigan Council received the court order authorising the deprivation of the boy’s liberty on the ward.

However, it was overturned by MacDonald just two days later.

He said: “It would border on the obscene to use a protective jurisdiction to continue the boy’s current bleak and dangerous situation simply because those with responsibility for making proper provision for vulnerable children in this jurisdiction have failed to discharge that responsibility.”

The council was told to find a specialist community placement for the boy.

He added: “Within this context, the adverse impact of the lack of appropriate provision that the courts have to wrestle with week in and week out in cases of this nature is now also impacting on the health and welfare of children and families who have no involvement with the court system.”

“Whilst the focus of this court is, and has to be, on the welfare of Y, it cannot be ignored that the situation that has arisen in this case by reason of an acute lack of appropriate resources for vulnerable children in Y’s situation has impacted severely on many other children and families,” the judge said.

A copy of the ruling has been sent by MacDonald to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, children’s minister Vicky Ford, Ofsted, chief children’s social worker Isabelle Trowler and chair of the Care Review Josh MacAlister.

See full article here

Source: Children and Young People Now, 13th August 2021

Published by CHARM Greater Manchester

CHARM, the Community for Holistic, Accessible, Rights Based Mental Health was launched by The Organic Recovery Learning Community in September 2020.

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