ThisMonthInDisability- November-Autism Waiting Times

Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary at the Department of Health, was questioned by the Health Select Committee, chaired by Sarah Woolaston on October 31st. A question was asked by Dr Paul Williams, Labour MP for Stokton South on Autism diagnosis waiting times for children. He spoke of how the parents of children in his constituency could wait for up to 4 years before an assessment takes place. NICE guidelines state that the time between referral and assessment should be “within 3 months;

Asking the Secretary of State what he believes the waiting time should be, Mr Hunt replied that the time should be “no longer than the nice guidelines say”. Mr Williams went on to ask that, following on from the NHS introducing targets in areas such as psychological therapy and physical illnesses, whether the government would consider waiting time targets for autism assessments. Mr Hunt replied that he would need to look at it in more detail “but I am very aware of the agony of parents who have to wait a very long time and indeed of the child concerned”

Mr Williams said that he felt fragmentation was an issue and that working with local authorities “in partnership” with clinical commissioning groups “in a much deeper way” was important and asked Secretary of State what he would say to a parent who received a letter, which tells them that they’re going to be waiting years to be seen, Mr Hunt replied “I’d say it’s not good enough”. He added that the NHS has been under a lot of pressure for the last few years but assured Mr Williams’ that his concerns would be taken away and examined.

The Committee follows on from a letter sent by Mr Williams and which was backed by more than 140 cross party MPs, asking the Secretary of State to commit to a national waiting time standard for both the referrals to assessment stage but also completion of assessment.

“These two actions are achievable and would be a major step forward for children with suspected autism and their family”

the letter reads;

There have also been debates in Parliament on Autism, most recently on Autism: Mental Health and Suicide

Autism Community: Mental Health and Suicide – Hansard Online (30th November 2017)

Autism Diagnosis – Hansard Online (13th September 2017)

In the Government’s latest Autism Self-Assessment Framework 2016, which “allows local authorities and their partners to monitor their progress” in terms of meeting the requirement of the Autism act, currently the Autism Act 2009 and the Autism Strategy, Think Autism, published in 2014, 43% of local authorities in the West Midlands with a green rating reported meeting the NICE guidelines on recommended waiting times, those given a red rating 22% and those with an amber rating 23% with the longest waits in Stoke on Trent  at 27 weeks

Research carried out by University College London in 2015 found that over 1000 parents of children with autism have waited up to 4 years between a referral by a health professional and conformation of diagnosis.

The Welsh Government introduced a waiting time target of 26 weeks as part of it’s Autism Spectrum Disorder Strategic Action Plan, launched in 2016

A report commissioned by the Autism Achieve Alliance found that

For a child, the average total wait for diagnosis from referral to receiving the diagnosis was 331 days 

For an adult, the average total wait for diagnosis was 162 days


children had a statistically significant longer wait between referral and first appointment and a longer overall wait between referral and receiving the diagnosis compared to adults

Statistics from Ireland’s Health Service Executive Performance Profile, published in September-October of this year,  found that the amount of children waiting for more than 12 weeks rose to 317, compared to 170 2015/2016 and a adults offered an appointment and seen within 12 weeks dropped from 72.1% to 71.5% since 2015/2016.

Thank you for reading. 

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ThisMonthInParliament- November 2017



Autism Diagnosis- House of Common Debate (13th September 2017)

National Autistic Society- Government to look at waiting times target for diagnosis (1 November 2017)

  • Government commits to collecting and publishing autism diagnosis waiting times in England (13 Sept 2017)

Health Select Committee- Jeremy Hunt

(for Autism question, skip to 1:30:57)

Mental Health and Suicide within the Autism Community- House of Commons Library Briefing

Backbench Business Committee Representations: Backbench Debates (17th October 2017) (Autism representation on Page 7)

Autumn Budget 2017 (Welfare Spending, Page 67) (22nd November 2017)

Trussel Trust- Call for urgent cut to six-week Universal Credit wait as foodbank demand soars across the UK

Equality & Human Rights Commission– Impact of tax and welfare reforms between 2010 and 2017: interim report

Work and Pensions Committee
Oral evidence: PIP and ESA assessments, HC 355
(22 November 2017)

Universal Credit House of Commons Statement (23rd November 2017)

People With Disabilities: Changing Facilities (23rd November 2017)

Changing Places Website

Improving Lives-The Future of Work, Health and Disability (29th November 2017)

Government sets out plan to see more disabled people in work (29th November 2017)

Strategy seeks one million more disabled people in work by 2027 (30th November 2017)

Government plans on work, health and disability (30th November 2017)

Mind responds to Government plans for work, health and disability (30th November 2017)

Autism Community: Mental Health & Suicide (30th November 2017)

£45m boost for young people with SEND (30th November 2017)

Work, Health and Disability- House of Commons Statement- (30th November 2017)

UK Government to host its first ever Global Disability Summit (30th November 2017)

New employment programme begins in England and Wales (30th November 2017)

Autism Community: Mental Health and Suicide- House of Commons debate (30th November 2017)

Accessibility for disabled people on public transport

A consultation on improving accessibility for disabled people on public transport has been launched by the United Kingdom government.

A Transport System that is open to everyone was published by the Department for Transport on August 24th, 2017, with 21 organisations contributing to it, including Scope, the Spinal Injuries Association, the Mental Health Action Group and Age UK.

The Accessibility Action Plan provides a number of proposals, including working with the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies, freight operators and Network Rail, to provide “alternative journey options” for disabled passengers if a train and/or facility stops working and how this information could be passed on. Additionally, eligibility for the Blue Badge scheme, set up to provide a way for people with mobility problems to park as close as possible to their destination, could be expanded to include those with hidden disabilities such as Autism and Dementia. A link to disability benefits could also be considered. A further proposal included within the plan is the creation of a National Assistance Card, which could be used across the transport system alongside existing schemes, such examples include the Journey Assistance Card and Transport For London’s “Please Offer Me a Seat”.

The latest data from the Family Resources Survey, as of March 2017, identifies 44% of people of pension age are disasbled, 18% are of working age and 7% are children.

The consultation runs until 15th November 2017

Government Reshuffle 2014 (Moved from Coventry Culture Blog) (From 15/07/2014)

Nicky Morgan has been announced as Education Secretary, replacing Michael Gove, whom held the post since the formation of the coalition in May 2010. What’s your response to the new appointment? Coventry Culture would like to hear from you.

If you would like to form part of the feature, submit your comment via this group, via the Contribute to Coventry Culture links on the blog or via the comment box on the blog. It’s entirely up to you.




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