Mar 21, 2023, Learning Disability Today: 121,000 people waiting for NHS autism assessment https://www.learningdisabilitytoday.co.uk/121-000-people-waiting-for-nhs-autism-assessment
The number of people waiting for an autism assessment has increased by 40% in the last year and 169% since February 2020.
In December 2022, there were 140,000 people on the waiting list for an autism assessment, with 86% (121,000 people) waiting longer than 13 weeks.
NICE guidance is clear – no one should waiting longer than three months between being referred for an autism assessment and being seen, yet some have been waiting for more than a year.
The National Autistic Society (NAS) says this is “unacceptable” and is now urging the government to address the growing autism diagnosis crisis and to immediately invest in rolling out diagnosis services….
WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT GOING TO DO TO REDUCE WAITING TIMES?
In 2021-22, the government invested £10.5 million to test and implement the most effective ways to reduce diagnosis waiting times for children and young people.
They also invested £2.5 million [$3.1M] to improve the quality of adult diagnostic and post diagnostic pathways and expanded the early identification pilot programme, which involves health and education professionals working together in schools to assess children who may be autistic or have other SEN.
However, it seems these measures have not gone far enough, with more people than ever before waiting for an autism assessment, and a further 7.2 million people waiting for operations and other treatment.
NAS says it is committed to holding the government to account and ensuring waiting lists are bought down as quickly as possible. Last month, 29 MPs joined NAS campaigners in a debate in Westminster Hall on autism and ADHD assessment delays.
The debate was kickstarted by Jess Tomlinson and Sonya Mallin, both of whom waited years for their children to have autism assessments.
Sonya said she hadn’t heard from a single family who has had a “positive experience” with receiving an autism assessment on the NHS….