Health chiefs apologise over children's five year autism test wait

Rhona Radley, Senior Service Improvement Manager at NHS Calderdale CCG, (inset) and Stuart Smith
Rhona Radley, Senior Service Improvement Manager at NHS Calderdale CCG, (inset) and Stuart Smith

Health bosses have apologised over services after it was revealed that families in Calderdale are waiting up to five years for autism assessments for their children.

School age kids face five year wait for autism tests in Calderdale

Rhona Radley, Senior Service Improvement Manager at NHS Calderdale CCG, acknowledged services it had commissioned had not met demand but the issue was being addressed including improvements and extra funding

“Over the last few years the number of GP referrals to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) has increased significantly and despite efforts the service we commissioned has not been able to meet this demand,” she said.

“We’re sorry, and we recognise that this isn’t what people need.

“We want to reassure you that we’re doing everything we can to reduce waiting lists as quickly as possible.

“We understand the pressure and anxiety that this uncertainty can have on children and young people and their families.

“We believe that families shouldn’t need to wait for a formal diagnosis before accessing specialist support services and so we have written to all the families on our waiting list with an information pack which details all the services that they can access without delay.

“We have also appointed a dedicated practitioner to support those waiting.

“Working hand in hand with our partners, the CCG has also agreed additional funding which we hope will help quickly reduce waiting times.

“Looking to the future, the independent review of services we commissioned together with Calderdale Council has made a number of recommendations where improvements can be made.

“We are working together with local stakeholders, including parents and carers to build a new pathway that delivers timely diagnosis and personalised support, by placing every young person at the centre of their own care plan.”

Calderdale Council’s retiring Director for Adults and Children’s Services, Stuart Smith, said the council had been working closely with Calderdale CCG which commissioned the assessment service for ASDs.

The situation was improving but there was still a way to go.

“We have been working closely with them to drive improvements in the range of mental health services for children,” he said.

“In many areas these services are improving rapidly and there are services available from the council for children whilst they are awaiting assessment, but there is still a way to go to improve waiting times for autism assessments. We will continue to work with the CCG to support improvements to this service.”