Health watchdog slams Calderdale diagnosis waiting times for adults with autism

A health watchdog claims diagnosis rates for adults with autism in Calderdale are still extremely low.

Healthwatch Calderdale, the local arm of the national organisation which acts as an independent champion for people who use health and social care services, says there have been some positive changes since its previous report on the situation two years ago.

Healthwatch Calderdale has been critical over diagnosis waiting times

Healthwatch Calderdale has been critical over diagnosis waiting times

But Healthwatch Calderdale says in its November 2019 report recently considered by the council’s Adults Health and Social Care Scrutiny Board that it frequently hears from adults with autism spectrum conditions about a range of difficulties they face accessing suitable health and social care services.

In response, councillors heard the council has taken on board the original recommendations from the 2017 Healthwatch report and taken appropriate action and will now consider the new recommendations and respond accordingly.

Issues raised by Healthwatch Calderdale’s report include difficulties accessing a diagnostic treatment, long waiting lists for assessment without indicators or timescale, a lack of post-diagnostic services in the borough and “very little support” for families and carers of adults with autism.

The watchdog says in the 2017 report it used feedback from adults with autism, their families and supporters using online surveys and one-to-one engagement.

Positive changes since has included a diagnostic pathway for adults with autism spectrum conditions being commissioned by Calderdale NHS Clincical Commissioning Group which has been used since April 2018, and extra funding put in by the CCG to clear waiting lists down to National Institute for Care Excellence three month guidelines, which have been achieved by the South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which deals with physical, mental and social care issues.

Another positive is Calderdale Council’s funding of a one-year pilot for an Autism Hub, since extended for two futher years, says the November 2019 report.

Health and council professionsals outlined in the briefing paper to councillors progress made against the original 2017 recommendations.

As well as the Autism Hub these includes establishing the All Ages Disability Service, which combines social work teams that support adults and children with learning and physical disabilities and autims, supporting 4Neurodiversity, a new autistic-led charitable organisation being set up to provide autism awareness and self-awareness training and consultancy, enabling Aspergers Peer Support Groups, arranging regular meetings of an Autism Strategy Group which brings together adults with autism spectrum conditions, parents, carers, council and health staff and service providers, and commissioning the Autism Employment Service.

The new report will be considered by the system as a whole, along with other priorities raised with it rather than individual groups or organisations, and a response provided, board members heard.