Campaigners have attacked the National Autistic Society (NAS) for allowing under-fire mental healthcare group St Andrew’s to promote itself at one of the charity’s conferences.
St Andrew’s set up an exhibition stall at the NAS Autism Professionals Conference last Thursday and Friday (27 – 28 February), in Birmingham.
Critics say St Andrew’s mental health units have been the backdrop to human rights abuses involving people with autism.
Healthcare watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) last week decided to keep St Andrew’s Healthcare Adolescent Service, in Northampton, in special measures.
The service was criticised for dragging patients along the floor and injuring them.
Jeremy says St Andrew’s, Northampton kept his daughter Bethany, 19, in a “cell”. He was awarded damages over her treatment.
On Twitter, Jeremy, 52, from Birmingham, accused the NAS of using his daughter’s story to promote their cause, but being “just as happy to promote St Andrew’s Healthcare”.
Restraints and forced injections
Isabelle Garnett’s son Matthew, 19, spent almost two years at St Andrew’s, Northampton.
She says he endured fortnightly restraints and forced injections.
Garnett, 51, from London, said she complained to the NAS at the 2018 Professionals Conference about a St Andrew’s stall at that event.
She wrote that she expressed her “concern and upset to the organisers, and in person to the exhibitors”.
Apology to the campaigners
The NAS tweeted an apology, admitting “we’re not happy about this — it shouldn’t have happened and we are sorry”.
The charity promised better “due diligence” on exhibitors in future.
NAS spokeswoman Jane Harris reiterated the apology.
She said all funds raised help run “information, peer-support and advice services”.
St Andrew’s chief executive Katie Fisher has admitted its current model of care is “wrong”, with “significant changes” needed.
Published: 3 March 2020