A desperate mum fears she has lost her fight to stop mental health bosses in Bradford sending her disabled teenage son to live in a specialist unit 125 miles away.
Paula Rawnsley has had her appeal against the decision rejected by Bradford District Care Trust, which means her 19-year-old son Thomas, who has Down Syndrome and is autistic, is now due to be transferred from Lynfield Mount Hospital to a specialist unit in Peterborough.
Yesterday, Thomas’s father Paul Bradbury put in an 11th hour bid to keep him in Bradford.
But Mrs Rawnsley said it would only “delay things” and feared her son would still be in Peterborough by the end of the week. Mrs Rawnsley, of Wibsey, said the move she had resisted at every turn was the latest in a series of complaints she had about her son’s treatment, including the use of anti-psychotic drugs and him being left naked in the corridors at the hospital’s Highfield assessment and treatment unit, where he has been held under the Mental Health Act since October.
She said: “Because his dad has intervened now, hospital managers have to have another meeting, but it’s only going to delay the inevitable – they will still send him away. They say they’ve no other option.
“When I visit him he can’t eat, he can’t talk – he just dribbles.
“He’s been turned into a junkie; he’s addicted to his anti-psychotic drugs because he’s kept on the maximum dose to make it easier for them to cope.
“It breaks my heart. He sits naked in a corridor just wrapped in a quilt. He has no modesty or dignity in there.
“He is my beautiful, beautiful little boy. When I ask the unit why he’s left naked like that they tell me it’s what he wants. I ask them lots of questions, I don’t get real answers. I think they see me as a trouble-maker but I’m not, I’m Thomas’s mum. Highfield is not the place for him because they can’t cope, but neither is Peterborough. I don’t drive, I gave up my job to help care for Thomas, I don’t have any money. I can’t go to Peterborough every day – how can I protect him if I can’t see him?”
“Thomas needs to stay near us. He loves us deeply..”
Thomas had been living at Norcott House in Liversedge – a unit privately-owned by Leeds-based Woodleigh Care but funded by BDCT – but suffered ill-treatment by a member of staff. In February this year a Norcott House worker was given a suspended sentence by a judge at Leeds Crown Court when he admitted ill treating Thomas between December 2012 and spring last year.
Mrs Rawnsley said: “Just after it happened they said they could not deal with Thomas at Norcott; his mistrust of staff was a risk to staff, they said.
“He was sectioned and sent to Highfield but they coudn’t do anything for him. The trust then had a plan to find him his own little place through a company called Grey Healthcare. They found a bungalow near me in Wibsey and were going to bring in trained staff to look after him. It was going to be wonderful but then for some reason it was all off and there was nowhere for him to go again.
“He went to stay with his dad and I gave up my full-time job to go and care for him there every day. His medication was changed and he got worse, he had these seizures where he’d go vacant, get aggressive and just lash out at anything. When he’d come round he’d sob and not believe what destruction he’d done. He was self-harming, banging his head against a wall, begging for help.”
Thomas was sectioned in October last year and has been at Highfield since. Mrs Rawnsley said her requests for him to be seen by a psychiatrist with expertise in Down Syndrome and autism had been ignored.
The Telegraph & Argus asked Bradford District Care Trust to respond to all of Mrs Rawnsley complaints.
Nicola Lees, its director of nursing, said she could not comment on individual cases due to patient confidentiality but added that on rare occasions its assessment and treatment unit at Highfield might not be the right environment for a person who requires intensive care and treatment.
“In situations such as this the trust would always work closely with the family and other health care providers to ensure that an individual’s needs are met in the best way possible,” she said.
“We understand that transition into another care setting can be distressing for all involved and our staff are trained to advise on the support families can access.”