Health secretary Matt Hancock has ordered a review of the long-term treatment of people with learning disabilities or autism.
Mr Hancock has asked hospital inspectorate the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to open an urgent investigation into practices including the use of seclusion and segregation of patients within secure hospitals.
The health secretary’s intervention comes after coverage of the treatment of more than 2,300 people with autism or a learning disability currently detained in secure hospitals, known as Assessment and Treatment Units (ATUs), since 2015.
Earlier this week a Sky News investigation revealed that at least 40 people have died while admitted to an ATU in the last three-and-a-half years.
It also exposed the plight of one man who has spent 18 years detained in an ATU 100 miles from his parents’ home to which he was originally admitted for just nine months.
Mr Hancock is known to have been particularly concerned at the case of a 17 year-old girl kept in seclusion in an ATU, whose father is only able to communicate with her through a hatch when he visits.
He has ordered an urgent NHS England review of her case, and following a meeting with her father, who has detailed her treatment on social media, has ordered the CQC to look at practices in the sector.