Holloway Mum’s plea to save autistic son locked up in mental hospital hours from home

Leo Andrade with her sons Joshua (left) and Stephen.

Leo Andrade with her sons Joshua (left) and Stephen. - Credit: Archant

A mother whose severely autistic son is being detained in a mental hospital more than 60 miles away has issued a plea to let him come home.

Leo Andrade, of Rickson Street, Holloway, has to make a four-hour round trip to St Andrews Hospital in Northampton to see her 19-year-old son Stephen – sometimes being told he is not allowed visitors.

Islington Council’s social services placed him at St Andrew’s in a self harming ward for those aged 25 to 40, where his mother says he is locked up inside 24 hours a day with drug addicts and alcoholics.


“We’re heartbroken. He is so unhappy,” said Mrs Andrade, 49. “People think ‘he’s autistic, he doesn’t have feelings’ – but you can see it in him.

“He has the sweetest smile but since he has been there I haven’t seen it once. When we arrive he is so drugged up he can’t even speak the little speech he has and he falls asleep in my lap.

“He is covered in bruises and has gashes all over his head from where he has hit himself from being anxious.”

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Several months ago Mrs Andrade, her husband Manuel and her eight-year-old son Josh were even told they were not allowed to visit Stephen because they “upset him”.

She now has a petition signed by more than 1,600 people to bring him home.

Her campaign comes as chief executive of Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust (CANDI), Wendy Wallace, said legal highs and foreigners were to blame for Islington mental health patients being sent as far away as Somerset. Despite Stephen being placed in Northampton by the council, Mrs Andrade is targeting her anger at Minister of State for Care and Support, Norman Lamb, who she says needs to provide more support to local authorities.

“There’s so much of it out there. I’m trying to fight it for all the children – I want to bring awareness to this situation,” she said.

“Norman Lamb was on the radio the other day, saying he was so angry about young people been sent so far from home, I called up because I wanted to say to him ‘put your money where your mouth is’.

“You can’t just pass the buck to local authorities – if they don’t have the resources and the places to put people, what can they do?”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “It is unacceptable for people to have to travel hundreds of miles for care.

“Our Mandate to the NHS makes clear we expect equal priority between mental and physical health services.

“To achieve this we’ve invested over £450m into improving access to treatments and from next year will introduce access and waiting time standards for mental health so everyone can get the treatment they need where and when they want it.”