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Care minister Norman Lamb appeals for Redruth teen Josh Wills to be brought back home

By WBEsme  |  Posted: July 25, 2014

Josh and Phill Wills

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The family of a severely autistic teenager are hoping he will return home to Cornwall after intervention from care minister Norman Lamb.

Josh Wills, 13, from Redruth has been a resident in a specialist unit in Birmingham for two years.

His family make the 260 mile trip to see him every weekend, but Josh constantly asks to see his parents during the week and misses them greatly.

He has spent his 12th and 13th birthdays in care and has never met his sister.

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But parents Sarah Pedley and Phill Wills were given new hope on Tuesday after Care Minister Norman Lamb asked Cornwall Council and the NHS to work together to bring Josh closer to his family, as soon as safely possible.

The minister will be monitoring the progress of Josh’s case and has asked for a progress report by the end of August.

Josh's condition is so severe, he has been cared for in a specialist unit in Birmingham, five hours away from home.

The teenager was moved in 2012 for what the family was told would be six months, but two years on and he is still there.

It is possible that Josh could be moved to a care facility in Gloucestershire, but this would still leave him 170 miles from Cornwall.

Mr Wills said: “Josh’s natural, endearing personality struggles against an urge to self-harm and severe autism that can make his world a confusing and frightening place.

“This whole experience is heartbreaking for our family.

“Josh continually asks for us and when he can’t see us he becomes anxious and more likely to self-injure. Josh’s self-harming is so severe that it is life threatening. Last year he bit his tongue so badly that a third of it then had to be removed.

“We visit Josh every weekend. This is exhausting but it still never feels enough. Whilst the staff caring for Josh do a great job, what we can’t understand is why Josh can’t receive that same level of care, closer to home, so we don’t have to travel for over five hours just to give him a hug.

“All I want is to have my son closer to home.”

Trevor Doughty, Cornwall Council's corporate director of education, health and social care, told a local radio station that he hopes Josh will be back in Cornwall this year, but warned that he could not promise anything.

A spokesman for NHS Kernow also admitted that Josh’s case could have been handled better from the beginning.

The family started a petition in March to bring Josh home and it was already gained more than 180,000 signatures.

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  • mrcrashhappy  |  July 25 2014, 6:42PM

    God forbid the NHS should consider the needs and desires of the family before their own, overweening desire for self-justification.