Autism debate: Ministers must deal with delays and backlog

Jo Cox leads a debate on AutismBatley & Spen MP Jo Cox used Parliament yesterday to raise concerns about the heartbreaking national crisis around Autism assessments and the backlog and delays that are preventing people, particularly children, from getting a diagnosis.

The national average is more than three years. Locally, some are waiting more than two years.

This follows on from work Mrs Cox has done with parents and others in Batley & Spen and with the National Autistic Society.

During the debate she welcomed news that the two Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and Kirklees Council now have a plan in place to clear the backlog locally within a year.

After the debate, Mrs Cox said: “The government is slowly waking up to the scale of the personal tragedy of delayed Autism diagnosis.

“I think the commitment is there but the minister needs to keep driving forward progress to deal with the backlog and the delays.”

Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society, said: “Too many autistic people and their families are being pushed into anxiety or depression by years waiting for an autism diagnosis. It is deeply traumatic not to know why you or your child feel or act differently to those around you.

“A diagnosis can be life changing. It can explain years of feeling different, give people essential information about what might help, and unlock professional advice and support.

“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 Government and NHS England have recognised the seriousness of the issue and are making some welcome steps to address it. But they have fallen short by not committing to start monitoring autism diagnosis waiting times across England. Without this, it’s very difficult to effectively measure how services are performing, work out what’s causing long waits in different areas and ultimately improve services.

“Autistic people have waited long enough, they can’t wait any longer.”

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