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(UK) Lancashire: 400 kids waiting over a year for assessments

May 18, 2024, Yahoo News: Lengthy child waiting lists are ‘top priority’ for NHS chiefs

EXTRA funding will be sought later this year to tackle lengthy waiting lists for children urgently needing autism and ADHD assessments and speech and language therapy in Lancashire.

NHS leaders in Lancashire and South Cumbria are set to conduct a 'deep dive' into why waiting times across the disciplines are so long.

In some cases children are waiting more than two years to autism and ADHD assessments, a board meeting for Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board heard.

And around 400 youngsters have been waiting more than 52 weeks across the areas for speech and language therapy, the board was told.

In a report the ICB's Sheena Cummiskey, a non-executive director who chairs their quality committee, says: "There are unacceptably long waits in both children's and adults for autism and ADHD assessments (over two years in CYP).

"The ICB has a statutory responsibility to organise an assessment (and post diagnostic care). This is a quality and financial risk as patients may deteriorate and come to harm whilst waiting."

She also warned that because of "long waits and rising demand" the ICB is not currently meeting the SEND (special educational needs) code of practice and there was a "high risk that written statements of action will be issued by CQC (Care Quality Commission) and Ofsted during a SEND inspection".

Prof Sarah O'Brien, the ICB's chief nursing officer, said some funding had been secured to address some of the required need for the assessments - for "very high volumes and very long waiting times" - more needed to be done.

She told colleagues a business case was being drawn up for the autumn, seeking additional funding for 2024-25.

"It is a very challenging area but I think through our quality committee and the board we can do something. It is a top priority," she added.

David Blacklock, of Lancashire Healthwatch, said he was concerned about the extent of the waiting list pressures and warned that the board should not become "desensitised" to the challenges ahead.

Health leaders have pledged to examine the healthcare pathways for all areas to reduce risks to young and older patients and say their workforce plans will focus on such vulnerable services in future.


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