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Years after my son died in NHS care, state-sanctioned torture continues

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Torture is the word I used this week to describe the treatment of children and young adults in private and NHS units, following publication of a Care Quality Commission report about the use of restraint and segregation in these places. The report detailed accounts of being locked in rooms without access to the outside, fed through hatches, for weeks, months or even years. One boy had not been washed for six months, while staff had to shout at another young man through a window because there was no equipment to enable communication. They would hold a book up at the window for him to read while he spent most of his time naked under a blanket.

Another long-awaited report commissioned for the NHS was also published on the same day, showing that women and men with learning disabilities die 27 and 23 years earlier than the general population. It’s further evidence of the differential treatment certain people receive in the NHS and the impact it has on their lives.

As I read these reports, I thought about Connor, our 18-year-old son, who died in a specialist NHS unit in 2013 only months after his admission. Within hours of being admitted to the unit, Connor, who was in a clearly distressed and terrified state, was restrained face-down for more than 10 minutes by four staff members. Up to that moment he was a schoolboy who had never........

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