Oskar Nash: Mother of autistic teenager who died after authorities’ failures calls on ministers to act

Oskar Nash, 14, and Sammy Alban-Stanley, 13, were very different children and lived in different parts of the country, but their deaths and the lessons learned from their investigations have many similarities. The two young boys suffered from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and died after their families’ repeated pleas for help in dealing with the boys’ disabilities were met with a wall of resistance from the authorities .

Both mums have been contacted by families who say they recognize Oskar and Sammy’s stories in their own experience and are worried about their children now. They are now calling for urgent action from government ministers to ensure children’s disabilities like theirs are recognised.

Natalia Nash, Oskar’s mother who lived in Staines, said: ‘Throughout Oskar’s life, none of the agencies involved in his care understood his condition: Education, Child Services, CAMHS [child and adolescent mental health service], police. Therefore, there was no appreciation for the additional challenges Oskar faced due to his condition and how difficult daily life was for him.

Read more: Oskar Nash: Five things we learned from a tragic hearing to prevent more deaths like teenage suicide

“It’s not going to change for other children in the same situation without hiring autism specialists in each of the organizations mentioned who can mentor other staff and provide vital day-to-day knowledge and training while preparing care plans for children in need”. Natalia Nash and Patricia Alban have sent an open letter to Education Secretary Nadim Zahawi and Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid, calling for mandatory ASD training for anyone involved in dealing with mental health issues or of behavior.

Children with ASD are disproportionately represented in the cohort of children who self-harm and commit suicide, but Oskar’s inquest heard he was referred ‘urgently’ to CAMHS by his GP in September 2019 and December CAMHS forwarded this referral to an external counseling service without any consideration of her Asperger’s Syndrome and without any clinical assessment. The trust also failed to undertake a risk assessment while he was on the waiting list and to obtain updated information three months after his dismissal.

The council did not refer Oskar’s care to a registered social worker and their assessment of his needs when he was hit by a train was incomplete and overdue. Coroner Richard Travers said: ‘It is not an answer to point out Oskar’s reluctance to commit; it was a well-documented consequence of his disability and it was the department’s responsibility to overcome this communication barrier.

Surrey County Council said all staff in children’s services must undergo autism awareness training by the end of March this year. In response to the Coroner in March, the chief executive said that this training does not currently fully capture the link between autism and self-harm or suicidal ideation, and the associated risks, but the council has committed to rolling out a such training program as soon as possible. opportunity.

A spokesperson said today: ‘Surrey County Council has offered a full and sincere apology for our failures in relation to Oskar’s education and support needs. We take the coroner’s findings very seriously and continue to put in place the right measures in response to these findings.

Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said the team responsible for triaging referrals at CAMHS are now required to complete relevant autism awareness training on their induction. Chief Executive Graham Wareham said referrals awaiting triage are now reviewed every four weeks and that significant changes have been made to the Access and Advice Team’s triage process which “will significantly reduce the risk that an inappropriate dismissal will be made”.

For example, a “discovery conversation,” a semi-structured approach to identifying risks and goals, is held with the child and family. Mr Wareham said: “No referral is closed without the trust having an engagement with the GP and providing the parent/guardian with information on how to get help if their situation changes. “

Oskar and Sammy’s mothers also want national guidelines updated to clarify the powers and duties of agencies to share information, to ensure an integrated approach to education, health and care of a child in the council’s EHC plan. Oskar’s investigation found that schools are refusing to share information that could help protect children because they are afraid of breaking data protection law.

In response to the coroner’s recommendation for more comprehensive record sharing, Surrey County Council said there was no national obligation for the local authority to share child protection records or require schools to do so. Chief Executive Joanna Killian wrote: “Given the sensitive nature of safeguarding child protection files and information, CSC does not consider a general system for sharing this information for all children with an EHCP is necessary or appropriate with respect to a child’s placement in school.”

Stephen Kingdom, Campaign Director of the Partnership for Children with Disabilities, said: “Parents across the country are telling us they have to fight for help from local authorities, schools and health services, that services do not work well together and there is insufficient support. what they need and what they are entitled to. »

In Kent, Sammy Alban-Stanley had also been recognized as a child in need by the county council, but was considered low risk by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health team despite previous suicide attempts. Kent County Council declined to assess Sammy, who also suffered from Prader-Willi syndrome, for specialist services from its disabled children’s team, while a review of care, education and treatment by CAMHS had not yet been implemented when Sammy fell off a cliff. Sammy’s inquest also heard that at the time of his death autistic children in Kent would not have access to a specialist neurodevelopmental pathway unless they had a severe learning disability.

Leigh Day’s lawyer, Anna Moore, said: ‘The deaths of Oskar and Sammy, in different parts of the country, illustrates that there are issues that need to be addressed at a national level. There are two major revisions in progress [into SEND and children’s social care] look at the support offered to children with disabilities and so now is the time to act and implement real change. I call on the government to act now to ensure that no other family has to suffer the appalling failures that Oskar, Sammy and their families have endured.

A government spokesperson said: ‘Every death is a tragedy and we take the concerns outlined in coroners’ reports seriously. We know the SEND support system is inconsistent for too many young people, so we are consulting on how to transform it.

“As part of this, we will seek to set national education, health and care standards and introduce simplified education, health and care plans (EHCPs). An additional £2.3bn per year for mental health services will also support an additional 345,000 children and young people to access NHS-funded services or school and college support each year Parents and guardians, young people and SEND workers can comment the government’s SEND exam here until July 22.

You don’t have to suffer in silence if you have mental health issues. Here are some groups you can contact when you need help:

Samaritans: phone 116 123, 24 hours a day, or email [email protected], confidential

Childline: Phone 0800 1111. Calls are free and will not appear on your bill

PAPYRUS: Voluntary organization to help suicidal teenagers and young adults. Telephone 0800 068 4141

Depression Alliance: A charity for people with depression. No helpline but offers useful resources and links to further information on its website

Students Against Depression: A website for depressed, moody, or suicidal students. Click here to visit

Bullying UK: a website for children and adults affected by bullying. Click here

Campaign Against Living Miserable (CALM): for young men who feel unhappy. Has a website here and a helpline: 0800 58 58 58

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