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Oliver McGowan: NHS Autism Training Mandatory After Teen’s Death

November 7, 2022

    Mandatory training for treating people with autism and learning disabilities is being rolled out for NHS health and care staff after a patient died.

    It comes after Oliver McGowan, from Bristol, died following an epileptic seizure.

    At the time, in November 2016, he was given an anti-psychotic drug he was allergic to despite repeated warnings from his parents.

    His mother Paula lobbied for mandatory training to potentially “save lives”.

    The training is for all NHS staff who work with the public.

    An independent review found Oliver’s death at Southmead Hospital was potentially avoidable.

    The 18-year-old, who was mildly autistic and had epilepsy and learning difficulties, was being treated for a seizure when he was given olanzapine to sedate him.

    Oliver, from Bristol, died in intensive care 17 days later after a rare side effect caused his brain to swell.

    ‘Staff didn’t understand’

    Mrs McGowan said: “He was a young teenager, who was very active.

    “He was playing for England FA and he went into hospital having… partial seizures.

    “Because staff didn’t understand his autism and how it affected him, he was chemically restrained.

    “Oliver wasn’t mentally ill and this caused Oliver’s death.”

    A spokesman for the NHS said the training had been developed with expertise from people with a learning disability and autistic people as well as their families and carers.

    The first part of the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training is being rolled out following a two-year trial involving more than 8,300 health and care staff across England.

    Mark Radford, chief nurse at Health Education England said: “Following the tragedy of Oliver’s death, Paula McGowan has tirelessly campaigned to ensure that Oliver’s legacy is that all health and care staff receive this critical training.

    “Paula and many others have helped with the development of the training from the beginning.

    “Making Oliver’s training mandatory will ensure that the skills and expertise needed to provide the best care for people with a learning disability and autistic people is available right across health and care.”

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