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Matthew Garnett: Teen who thinks he's in prison 'may leave' psychiatric unit

Matthew Garnett Image copyright PA
Image caption Matthew Garnett is staying on a ward that is unequipped to care for him, his family said

A 15-year-old with autism who believes he is being held in prison after being sectioned may be moved to a treatment unit, following a campaign.

Matthew Garnett was removed from his home in south London in September after attacking his father.

He was placed in a unit normally used for short-term emergency admissions, resulting in his family campaigning for him to be moved.

NHS England said he would now be moved within weeks.

'Six-month jail sentence'

It said Matthew would be transferred from the psychiatric ward in Woking, Surrey, to St Andrew's Healthcare in Northampton, which specialises in treating patients with autism.

His family said they were sceptical about the news.

Matthew's father Robin Garnett said: "Nothing has changed as far as we are concerned. Matthew has always been told that he has a place at St Andrew's and we have not been contacted by anyone from the NHS about moving him. Why should we trust them now?"

Writing on petition website Change.org, his mother Isabelle Garnett said for the past six months Matthew had been denied specialist care and was "trapped, alone, in a place unequipped to look after him."

"What I was promised would be a six-week pit stop has become a six-month jail sentence," she continued.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Matthew's family started a social media campaign to try to help their son using the hashtag #makeroomformatthew

His move has been held up by other patients awaiting transfers out of the facility, although to date more than 150,000 people have signed the family's petition calling for Matthew to be taken off the psychiatric ward.

Mr Garnett said he now wanted to see words become actions.

No admission date

Matthew "thinks he's in prison and is being punished for attacking us," he said.

His son has learning difficulties, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and "like a toddler" is unable to control his emotions, Mr Garnett added.

A spokesman for NHS England said: "We have every sympathy for Matthew and his family and we understand that this has been a very difficult time.

"It has been confirmed that Matthew will be moved to St Andrew's, where he will be able to receive the specialist care that he needs. We anticipate this will happen in a matter of weeks but cannot confirm an admission date at this point."

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