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Advocacy for Informal

Patients with Autism


Under the Mental Health Act 1983 (amended 2007) there is a duty to ensure that patients detained under the act understand that help is available to them from an Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA).


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Independent Mental Health Advocates

Unfortunately, under the current legislation, the right to an IMHA does not extend to informal patients. In the national strategy for autistic children, young people and adults: 2021 to 2026, there is a focus on supporting people with autism in inpatient settings to ensure they are receiving the right support which is able to meet their needs and is done for the least amount of time possible. Our new service aims to meet the gap in the Mental Health Act and the strategy set out by the Government.

We are able to offer support to informal patients within Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust Hospitals who have a diagnosis of autism. This is providing a vital service to those who would ordinarily fall through the gap in the Mental Health Act who may require additional support. Our aim is to support these individuals to understand their rights while staying as an informal patient in hospital and to support them to have their views and wishes heard on the ward and in other important meetings. We hope that by listening to the experiences of people with autism in inpatient settings we can aid in the strategic development of autism practice within Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust Hospitals.

How can we help?

We can support people with autism who are informal patients to have their views and wishes heard on the ward and within meetings. We can make sure that people are aware of their rights as an informal patient and explain information in a way which the person can understand. We are also able to support the person to raise concerns about their care and treatment. Our aim is to empower people to make their own voices and views stronger and improve their treatment and care.

By listening to the experiences and views of people with autism in an inpatient setting, we hope to provide key information of the successes and failures within services to guide future best practice for practitioners within Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust to improve the experiences of those entering inpatient facilities.

Download our self-help toolkit here.

How to refer

To refer, please complete a referral form.

A referral can be made by the service user, or on their behalf, by calling or emailing Advocacy Focus. Referrals will be responded to within 3 working days.

Referrals can be made by the service user themselves, responsible clinicians, social workers, hospital staff.

Call us on: 0300 323 0965 or email: admin@advocacyfocus.org.uk

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