Over 800 children are waiting over two years for autism diagnoses from the Labour-run Welsh NHS, new research has revealed.


The huge autism diagnosis waits for children

Over 800 children are waiting over two years for autism diagnoses from the Labour-run Welsh NHS, new research has revealed.

Freedom of Information requests from the Welsh Conservatives have uncovered how, of the 7,258 children waiting to find out if they are on the autism spectrum, two-thirds are wating over six months, 40% over a year, and 22% over 18 months. 804 (or 11%) are waiting over two years.

The final figures are likely to be far higher as North Wales’ Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board refused to provide figures. In September, over 10,000 patients were waiting over 14 weeks for diagnostic and therapies services there, the second highest figure in Wales.

Commenting, Welsh Conservative Shadow Mental Health Minister James Evans MS said:

“Whilst it is understandable that Covid has impacted waiting times, no one would agree it is acceptable for children and parents to wait several months, even years, for an autism diagnosis.

“That diagnosis could be key to giving a child the support they need in their schools and at home, with teachers and parents feeling more confident in helping them too.

“That’s why we pushed for an Autism Act in 2018, only to be blocked by Labour, and why we have called for various improvements to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Integrated Autism Service.

“Unfortunately, this is what the Labour Government delivers to the Welsh people – they can now add 800 children waiting over two years for an autism diagnosis to the worst A&E waits in Britain, the longest NHS waiting list in the UK, and its own slowest ambulance response times on record.”

The ONS estimates that the UK has an Autism prevalence rate of more than 1 in 100 people. According to the National Autistic Society, at least one in three Autistic adults are experiencing severe mental health difficulties due to a lack of support; 70% of Autistic adults would feel less isolated if they received more support.

The national Integrated Autism Service (IAS) was rolled-out across Wales in 2017, but its effectiveness in providing services to Autistic people has been questioned, with issues experienced in the provision and delivery of services.

Some services struggled to manage demand for their services and long waiting lists for assessment and diagnosis have developed, with these expected to occur in future services. A lack of reporting mechanisms has also made it difficult to judge demand for support and the capacity of the IAS to meet this support and what outcomes are achieved for service users.

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