Parent calls for Cornish autistic unit

A father from Cornwall who has to send his autistic son for hospital treatment 250 miles (402km) away is campaigning for a new unit closer to home.

Phil Wills, from Truro, said his 12-year-old son's life is in danger because he self-harms so badly.

Josh Wills has been sent to a secure unit in Birmingham because it is the closest place to Cornwall that can cope with his needs.

Health bosses said they "always try to meet the needs of individuals".

Mr Wills said: "It's too late for Josh, but if I can come close to stopping another father and mother having to make the decision to send their confused, upset hurting boy 250 miles away from their family then I feel I have done a good job for somebody else."

Josh has been sectioned under the Mental Health Act and has two carers to protect him round the clock.

Birmingham's Brookland's Hospital is the closest unit that can cope with Josh's problems.

Tom Purser, from the National Autistic Society, said: "These kinds of specialist in-patient services should be available at the very least at a regional level to deal with children with these kinds of issues."

In a statement, Jude Bowler, the associate director of the children and families commissioning team at Cornwall's Primary Care Trust, said: "We always try to meet the needs of individuals - regardless of their age - by finding the best care for them as close to their home as possible.

"For a small number of patients, that can mean them being cared for in specialist facilities outside of Cornwall.

"We aim to bring patients back into Cornwall as soon as possible."

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