Tom Brake has backed the National Autistic Society’s (NAS) campaign to reduce unacceptable waiting times for autism diagnosis.
He has written to NHS England and the Government urging them to take action to make sure no one waits longer than three months for a diagnostic appointment.
NAS has warned that average waiting times of over three years for both children and adults are pushing families to crisis point and without a diagnosis, victims may struggle to get support and develop anxiety and depression. Almost 12,000 people, including Tom Brake, have now raised this issue with NHS England and the Government.
The National Autistic Society and Tom Brake are calling for:
- NHS England to collect, publish and monitor key information on how long people are waiting for diagnosis, and how many people are known to their GP to be diagnosed.
- NHS England to demand that there should be a standard maximum three-month wait for a diagnostic assessment.
- The Government to write timely access to autism diagnosis into its mandate to NHS England.
“I’m proud to back the NAS campaign to reduce autism diagnosis waiting times. I know that diagnosis is a key milestone for people on the spectrum. It’s shocking that people are having to wait an average of two years or more for this.”
Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society, said:
“Too many families and individuals are being pushed into anxiety or depression by years waiting for an autism diagnosis. Reducing waiting times will drastically improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people on the autism spectrum and their families, and it can also save money at a time when public funds are strained.”
The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) states that early diagnosis and support can also help the NHS make savings, by reducing the number of GP appointments, emergency admissions and use of costly mental health services.
“The pros of cutting autism diagnosis times easily outweigh the cons. Action must be taken immediately.”