‘Children put at risk’ as NHS autism assessments are cut back – The Guardian


Health service managers in south-west England say new restrictions are needed because of a huge rise in waiting lists

NHS managers in south-west England have imposed new rules that could deny autism assessments to thousands of children in a move that parents say “puts children at genuine risk”.

At the start of this month, NHS commissioners in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire announced new referral criteria for children’s autism assessments, effective immediately with no notice or consultation.

NHS managers say the new restrictions are needed because of a 350% rise in local children waiting for an autism assessment since the height of the pandemic, with waiting times exceeding two years.


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5 comments on “‘Children put at risk’ as NHS autism assessments are cut back – The Guardian
  1. Lola Collishaw says:

    I understand that I’m ranting into space here, but why can’t schools be more proactive? They know the NHS is having problems; why aren’t educational psychologists and SENCOs able to step up to that task of diagnosis or at least provide recommendations to be followed in the meantime? It’s like within mental health; we have plenty of clinicians that could diagnose but aren’t allowed because of commissioning rules; how daft it that?

    It is frustrating and bizarre that certain services are not allowed to provide a diagnosis; we have kids and adults being bounced around the system. I get that we all have specialisms (education, mental health, learning disabilities), but I think it is exclusionary to expect neurodivergent individuals that are in distress to sit on waiting lists under other services when we have so many professionals more than capable of providing these diagnoses to those under our care, and neurodiversity cuts through all these specialisms. Would that not cut waiting lists?

    I have colleagues (self-included) that are/have self-funded to use the NICE-approved assessment tools, but if you’re in the wrong service, you are not allowed to diagnose – madness! The best we can offer is an informal clinical opinion and strongly supportive letters to GPs. It just makes you feel totally worthless as a professional when you have the skills and can basically do nothing because of bureaucracy.

  2. Linda Buchan says:

    Well said

  3. Jessica says:

    I have no faith in the NHS ND system, my child has been let down in every possible way with the NHS which is the reason I’ve paid to have her assessed by Axia. It’s absolutely soul destroying when you see your child suffer and fall behind because of the poorly run NHS service. BCU west have a 3 year waiting list now with a pre waiting list to get onto that 3 year waiting list. Absolutely infuriating, things need to change , and fast we have our axia appointment next month, I am nervous/ scared though due to going through the missions of BCU west

  4. Linda Buchan says:

    Thank you for trusting us

  5. lee says:

    Is there a long waiting list for adult assessments too?

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