In a significant leap of progress a letter has gone out to doctors in England from the National Health Service warning of them about the inappropriate use of psychiatric medications . The letter co-authored by chief pharmacist Keith Ridge estimates that an excess of between 30-35,000 learning disabled adults are being medicated with anti-psychotic and anti-depressant medications as against the average in the general population. The letter is one of a number of official responses to the Winterbourne scandal, in which people with learning disabilities were horrifically maltreated in a private hospital near Bristol.
Age of Autism has frequently highlighted the tragic case of Harry Horne-Roberts (pictured) who died in London in 2009 after having been incompetently medicated with an anti-psychotic drug, without the knowledge of his family. While the letter does not challenge the use psychiatric medications in every case it does acknowledge that they cause harm – particularly when prescribed on a prolonged basis - and that they have been used as a means of control, rather than because the patient had mental health problems.
The letter obviously stands as warning about the medical abuse of the learning disabled across the globe.
John Stone is UK Editor for Age of Autism.