Waiting time for Calderdale children autism assessments revealed

NHS at Broad Street Plaza, Halifax.
NHS at Broad Street Plaza, Halifax.

Calderdale families waiting for an autism assessment for their child should not have to wait more than 12 months by early next year, say council and health chiefs.

Calderdale’s’s 2017-18 Health and Wellbeing Report from last summer detailed waiting times for pre-school children of 12 months while school age children were waiting four to five years and although moving in the right direction there is still work to be done, they say.

Calderdale Council’s Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Board heard a new provider of the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) assessments has been commissioned by Calderdale NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), with families were given a choice of remaining on the waiting list of current providers or taking up the offer of an assessment through the new provider.

In 2016, the CCG commissioned work to address backlog of assessments but this did not solve the longer term issue of increasing demand.

CCG Senior Service Improvement Manager Rhona Radley said the next stages of the process were to agree the plan and intentions for school-age children initially, and then review pre-school children to ensure both groups of assessments were inside 12 months, the current position showing this was achievable.

Ultimately, members heard later in the meeting that the aim was for the waiting list in Calderdale to be within three to six months, in line with National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance, though implementation would be pending the clearance of the waiting list.

Board members asked questions about issues including support for young people as they transitioned to adult services, support for pre-school children including the effect not getting a diagnosis before starting school would have on them and support for schools.

Among responses given were that young adults over the age of 18 would be accepted into adult services, although Child and Adolescents Mental Health (CAHMS) services does cover up to age 25.

Officers said once children were diagnosed with ASD, the council had a role in supporting them and the team responsible had received excellent feedback following the recent inspection of SEND services by watchdog Ofsted.

Types of support now available to families were outlined to the board.