Autistic man from Brighton ‘stuck in hospital for 20 years’

An elderly couple say their autistic son has been stuck in a hospital for more than 20 years.



Tony Hickmott, from Brighton, has spent decades in a secure unit while his family struggles to get him out.

His parents Roy, 81, and Pam, 78, want them to be cared for in the community with their own carers.



However, efforts to relocate the 44-year-old have been unsuccessful and he lives in “out-of-town housing”.

After successfully reversing the gagging order, Roy and Pam are now able to talk about frustrations for the first time.



“He has spent half his life in an institution,” Pam told Sky News. “It ruined our lives. Absolutely ruined our lives, Tony’s life.”

“Tony deserves to come home because that’s all he lives for.”



Tony, who has autism and a learning disability, has also told his parents about his desire to leave the hospital.

Argus: Hospital

Even after all these years, Tony still talks about his hometown.

Pam said: “It’s all he knows. This is home, this isn’t. This is home. It’s relaxing. He loves the pier. We used to go over there and eat fish and chips and candy floss.”

“On lovely summer evenings, we used to walk by the sea.”

Roy and Pam say it’s been eight years since they were first told that Tony might be leaving the hospital.

His father Roy said that the most disturbing thing for him is that he is sitting at the dinner table enjoying home-cooked food, knowing about his son’s stay in the hospital.

“I want to take my dinner to him and give it to him,” he said.

In 2018, Brighton and Hove The city council said they were working to take care of Tony “as soon as possible”.

Since then, Tony’s care has been subject to a Court of Protection case and reporting restrictions were imposed, which prevented Tony and his parents from discussing the case, which were later dropped.

But Pam and Roy have to drive more than 100 miles to meet their son – a trip they make weekly.

“Half-way driving home, I walk in and I sit there crying,” said Roy. “I mean I hate to say it – I sit there crying. For all the sadness it has caused. I just think of Tone who is sitting there alone.”

He continued: “I just can’t have another cold. I’m not coping. I have. I’m finally here.”

A Brighton & Hove City Council spokesman said they have tried several times in recent years to locate Tony housing closer to his hometown.

“Unfortunately, these were not successful,” he said. “Tony has extremely complex needs. His current out-of-town accommodation is the closest that provides specialist care and the high staff ratio needed to care for and manage his needs.

“We are aware of the difficulties Tony’s parents have had in seeing their son over the years and are very sympathetic to his situation.

“We are now working with Tony’s parents, NHS partners and a new housing provider and we are actively considering options over the coming months that will best meet Tony’s needs and his parents’ wishes.” will complete.”

A spokesman for NHS England in the South East said: “The NHS in the South East continues to work closely with Mr Hickmott, his family and the local commissioner involved in his care.

“Mr. Hickmott has complex care needs with the highly specialized support needed to meet his needs and we continue to work with his parents and partner organizations to ensure appropriate care and support.”

Tony isn’t the only person with autism or a learning disability stuck in a hospital.

At the end of October, there were 2,070 people with learning disabilities or autism in specialist hospitals in England.

According to NHS figures, at least 810 of these people are ready for leave.

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