‘Children waiting too long for autism diagnosis’

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Children who have autism are not being diagnosed quick enough with parents having to turn to costly private test centres, an MP has told the House of Commons.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence said it should take no longer than three months before between being referred and diagnosis.

But Labour MP for Batley and Spen Jo Cox said families are still struggling to get the help they need, with many waiting more than three years for a diagnosis.

Ms Cox said: “It is really important to underline the scale of this problem, and the consequences of it.

“You only have to meet a handful of parents to realise the unbelievable pressures these waiting times put them under.

“Diagnosis is a critical milestone for people on the spectrum.

“It helps individuals take control of their lives and can unlock access to essential support and services.

“It can be just as important for parents, family members and friends, enabling them to better understand what is happening to their loved ones.”

During a debate in the House of Commons she asked the Government to require NHS England to collect, publish data on diagnosis waiting times, and ensure that no one will wait longer than three months.

She said: “Here is a crisis now so acute that some desperate parents are paying for help that by right they should be able to access on the NHS – but what about those without the resources to pay? They are currently left in a distressing and damaging limbo - often for years.”

Alistair Burt MP, Minister for Community and Social Care, admitted in some parts of the country more needs to be done to standardise timescales of diagnosis.

He said NHS England staff are currently visiting clinical commissioning groups to better understand the present system and are due to release a report on their findings in April.

Ms Cox said: “Some people in Kirklees have been waiting more than two years for a diagnosis. I am delighted that the CCGs and Kirklees Council now have a plan in place to address the backlog having committed funding.

“I hope the government will take steps to help all local authorities and health commissioners to do the same across the country.”

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