Wigan Council bosses find new placement for boy staying on hospital ward

A 12-year-old boy with behavioural difficulties, who was “inappropriately placed” on a hospital ward, now has somewhere new to stay.

Sunday, 18th July 2021, 4:55 am
Wigan Council was told to find another placement for the boy

The High Court was told Wigan Council had put the youngster in hospital because of “an acute lack of appropriate resources”.

But Mr Justice MacDonald was told the boy was subjected to chemical and physical restraint at the hospital – and at times 13 police officers had been present in an effort to control his behaviour.

He said the boy demonstrated “challenging, violent and increasingly self-harming behaviour”, nurses and staff had been hurt and other patients frightened.

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The judge refused to allow council bosses to continue to deprive the boy of his liberty on the hospital ward and said they “simply must” find an “alternative placement” for him.

Now, the council has confirmed the boy has left the hospital.

A joint statement was released by Wigan Council, NHS Wigan Borough CCG, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.

They said: “This has been a very complex and sensitive case and health and social care partners across Wigan borough have been working closely to try to safely resolve the situation and find a more appropriate place for this young person.

“All professionals involved in the care have been making decisions in the best interests of the young person, whilst also taking into consideration the difficult circumstances and the welfare of staff and carers.

“We are all pleased that a more suitable placement has been found and the young person was transferred there on Wednesday, with a lot of ongoing support from social care, community services and mental health professionals. We hope that this helps them to transition well and get the long term help that they need.

“The judge hearing this case recognised the care and dedication shown by all professionals involved and expressed his gratitude for this.

“This is a highly complex case that remains subject to legal proceedings.”

Mr Justice MacDonald, who is based in London, outlined detail of the case in a written ruling following a recent private hearing in the Family Division of the High Court.

He said the boy cannot be identified, referring to him in the ruling as “Y”, and has not named the hospital.

“In the circumstances, Y is currently and inappropriately placed on a clinical ward at (the hospital), where he has had to be subject to chemical restraint, physical restraint and five-to-one staffing in order to attempt to control his behaviour,” said the judge.

“At times there have been up to 13 police officers present on the ward in an effort to control Y’s behaviour.

“That paediatric ward has now had to be shut to new admissions due to the risk presented by Y, and parts of the ward have been closed entirely.

“Other gravely ill children have had to be moved to alternative hospitals across the north west of England and lists of elective surgeries for children in urgent need of such treatment have been cancelled.

“Nurses and other hospital staff have been injured.

“Other sick children and their parents have been alarmed and frightened.”

He added: “What will now happen to Y? The answer is that the local authority simply must find him an alternative placement.”

Mr Justice MacDonald, and a number of other judges, have raised concerns about a shortage of secure accommodation for children with behavioural difficulties in England and Wales in recent years.

The judge said the situation had arisen in the boy’s case because of “an acute lack of appropriate resources”.

He said he did not criticise medics, social workers and police involved with the boy’s care.

“All those involved have done their level best in a situation that has bordered on the unmanageable,” he said.

“Insofar as fault falls to be apportioned, it must settle on those who have not made the provision required to address the needs of highly vulnerable children such as Y.”

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