England

Disabled girl sedation and removal 'like Guantanamo rendition'

Winterbourne View Image copyright PA
Image caption The teenager was flown to Scotland while a place was found for her at Winterbourne View near Bristol

A teenager with learning disabilities was "unlawfully" sedated and flown from south-west England to Dundee in a move a health boss likened to "extraordinary rendition to Guantanamo Bay".

A leaked report seen by the BBC shows the girl's journey in 2007 happened without her or her parents' consent.

She was eventually placed at a private hospital near Bristol, which was later closed following an abuse scandal.

NHS England said "significant improvements" had occurred since 2007.

'Oppressive state'

The teenager had been living at a residential home in Plymouth, but had to be moved to an adult setting as she was about to turn 18.

The decision to fly her under sedation to Scotland was taken against the advice of her professional advocate.

She stayed in Scotland for one month before being moved to Winterbourne View private hospital, where the abuse of patients was exposed in a BBC Panorama programme in 2011.

Image caption Dr Gabriel Scally said even he had to fight to see a copy of the report

Gabriel Scally, former head of public health in south-west England, demanded an investigation into the girl's treatment, leading NHS South of England to commission a report.

Dr Scally said: "It sounded like this was a hardened criminal being moved by a very oppressive state - or extraordinary rendition to Guantanamo Bay or something like that.

"Now that may seem an extraordinary exaggeration but I am quite sure for the person involved it was highly difficult and traumatic."

The report concluded that "all that health and social care do to meet individual needs, we must understand that we only do so with the consent of the individual or have clear grounds to dispense with that consent".

"To do otherwise is unlawful."

'Heart breaks'

Dr Noelle Blackman from the charity Respond, which works with the families of people with learning disabilities, said the "most shocking" thing, in the report, was how the "young person's care was not at the centre".

She said: "It was all about who wasn't going to have responsibility for the cost. My heart breaks just reading that story.

"There was an advocate involved and they ignored the advocate too."

Hampshire County Council was responsible for the teenager's safeguarding and it said staff had "carried out their safeguarding duties" and had been working to find a placement locally "right up until she had been transferred to Scotland by the NHS in Plymouth".

Hampshire NHS said it had "immediately established a plan to ensure situations like this do not happen again".

NHS England, which is responsible for funding specialist units for adults with learning disabilities, said it had invested "millions into providing safe care close to friends and family wherever possible".

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