Claire Dyer: Transfer postponed!

Selection of pictures of Claire and family at the Race for Life in Swansea last Sunday; participants are all in pink, as is usual

Update 30th July, 14:13: See this BBC news report - this may be on TV later, especially in Wales.

Update 14:55: There is to be a court hearing this Friday; Claire will not be moved before then.

Yesterday Catherine Dyer, mother of Claire who I have been writing about for some time, told us that her daughter was to be transferred to a medium-secure hospital unit near Brighton tomorrow (Wednesday). Claire is autistic and displays challenging behaviour (ie., self-injury, hitting others and property), particularly in stressful situations, as is fairly common with autism. However, the family say they have only experienced a few such incidents over the last few years, mainly because they keep her occupied, which the assessment and treatment unit she is currently in does not. Claire has been out or home with her family on most days since being sectioned last September, which is otherwise unheard-of for someone held under Section 3. This will not continue when she is transferred, and visits will be much less frequent as it’s a five-hour journey.

What is even more worrying is that her destination is a mental health facility, not one that specialises in learning disabilities. There are two medium secure units in Sussex; one is The Dene, outside Burgess Hill, which caters for women only, including those referred by the courts because of offending behaviour, including homicide. The other is Hellingly, near Hailsham (much closer to Eastbourne than Brighton), run by the NHS Sussex Partnership, a mixed unit which also houses male sex offenders. The family have not revealed which unit she is being sent to, but unless there’s one being kept a huge secret, it must be one of these two.

That the so-called responsible clinician at Swansea is willing to send a vulnerable woman hundreds of miles away to such a wholly unsuitable place suggests that he wants to get rid of her by any means necessary and cares nothing about her best interests. Mark Neary has suggested that there may be a financial motive (if she remains out of area long enough, the local health trust in Sussex picks up the bill, not the health board in Swansea); I suspect that also, the target of getting long stayers out of ATUs can be more easily be met by moving the more difficult cases to secure units rather than discharging them home or finding care home or bespoke housing placements for them (you might recall that previously, Claire was offered such an arrangement, but would have to wait for it to be built).

Claire’s supporters have been contacting various charities to see if people can use their influence to get this move stopped. The Sussex Partnership responded to my tweet (and several others’) by posting a link to their help page; if you’re familiar with Claire’s case (and only then), you might like to contact them or the email contact on The Dene’s website to try and get them to see sense. One thing is certain is that Claire does not fit the profile of person that these units take, something they may quickly find out if she is moved there. She’s an autistic person who needs moderate supervision and stimulation, not months or years in a lock-up. As for this psychiatrist at Swansea, he should be facing a fitness-to-practise hearing because of this - his conduct has been damnable.

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