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(UK) SE England: 5,457 children waiting for ASD assessment

April 13, 2024, Bucks Free Press: Thousands of patients face long waits for autism diagnosis 

SE England

Thousands of patients are waiting months for an autism diagnosis in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire, figures show.

A think tank has said a “radical rethink” of autism and ADHD assessments and treatments is needed if the NHS is to keep up with demand.

The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence has set a target time of 13 weeks for those with suspected autism to be assessed.

But figures from NHS England show around 6,655 people in the area covered by the NHS Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrated Care Board had been waiting at least this long for an autism diagnosis at the end of 2023.

Of these, 82% were under 18. This was up from the same point a year before, when 5,385 people were waiting for 13 weeks or longer, 84% of them children.[5,457 children]

Analysis from the Nuffield Trust – a think tank – shows the 172,000 open referrals in December is the highest figure ever, and a five-fold increase since 2019.

Across the country 136,000 people were referred to NHS autism services in 2023, with 5,035 of them in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire.

In 2022 there were 112,000 new referrals. 

An NHS spokesperson said: "The NHS is fully committed to supporting and improving the lives of those with ADHD and autism which is why we have published new national guidance to help local areas manage the 50% increase in referrals they have seen.

"NHS England has also begun important work into investigating challenges in ADHD service provision and last month launched a cross sector taskforce alongside the Government, to help provide a joined-up approach for the growing numbers of people coming forward for support."


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