We and hundreds of thousands of campaigners have been calling forthese reforms for years, so the law respects autistic people’s rights. We hope this will mark a huge step forward in the campaign to stop the scandal of autistic people being stuck in inpatient mental health hospitals.
The urgency of this has been underlined this week by new NHS data showing that in June 2021 there were:
2,075 autistic people and people with learning disabilities in inpatient mental health hospitals
1,200 (58%) of these people are autistic.
Despite some progress moving people with a learning disability out of hospital and into the community, the number of autistic people in inpatients facilities has increased. In 2015, autistic people made up 38% of the number in hospital. Now it is 58%, making the need to get this right more pressing than ever.
It’s right that the Government is taking action. But it’s important to remember that the reforms will take years to come into force. There will need to be a new law to amend the Mental Health Act and that will have to be voted on in Parliament.
Crucially, changing the law won’t on its own end the scandal of autistic people being stuck in mental health hospitals. The Government and NHS need to stop autistic people reaching crisis in the first place, by investing in better social care and mental health services that work for autistic children and adults.
Read our news story on the changes to the Mental Health Act earlier this year.
Read Alexis’ story about being “locked inside” various mental health hospitals for three years.