The health secretary has apologised to an autistic girl who is locked up 24 hours a day without human contact.
Matt Hancock told Sky News that “the current plan” is to get Bethany – whose full name cannot be published – moved to a “more appropriate setting before Christmas”.
Asked by Sky News’ Sophy Ridge if he would say sorry to Bethany’s father Jeremy, Mr Hancock said: “Of course I apologise to Jeremy, and frankly to Bethany, for the things that have gone wrong in her care.”
Bethany was sectioned under the Mental Health Act when she was 15 because she was deemed a risk to herself and others. She has been locked up for almost three years.
Her distraught father has previously told Sky News that his daughter “is not an animal” after saying she is being held in a “cell” where food is served to her by sliding it across the floor.
Mr Hancock said: “I’ve met Jeremy and I insisted on a serious case review into Bethany’s care, which I’ve received a couple of weeks ago – and in fact we’ve published the executive summary, which is very unusual because these things are highly sensitive and Bethany’s case is incredibly difficult and complex.
“There are 10 recommendations in that review, which we are considering very carefully, essentially looking at how we can take those forward.
“Bethany does need to be moved and we’re lining up where we can move her to, we’ve got to get that right.
“The current plan is for her to be moved to a more appropriate setting before Christmas, I very much hope that will happen.”
In response, Jeremy was asked on Sky News if he was confident his daughter would be move this year. He replied: “No, but it has to happen now, because Matt has announced this on television.
“It’s great to have the apology but without the actions that follow, that apology means nothing.
“I’m quite sure that Bethany will be aware [of Mr Hancock’s comments] and Bethany will hang on every word that Matt Hancock has said, so I hope he has something up his sleeve.”
Jeremy added: “To me, this is yet more promises, we’ve had three years of promises to do the right thing for Beth.
“We’ve had to take NHS England to court to get an apology, to get an acceptance that they are delaying her move back to the community.”