Posted: Wed 1st Feb 2023

More than 800 children wait over two years for autism diagnoses in Wales

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Feb 1st, 2023

Over 800 children are waiting more than two years for autism diagnoses from the National Health Service (NHS) in Wales.

The figures, obtained through Freedom of Information requests by the Welsh Conservatives, showed that of the 7,258 children waiting for autism spectrum assessments, two-thirds are waiting over six months, 40% are waiting over a year, and 22% are waiting over 18 months.

The actual number of children waiting is likely to be higher as North Wales’ Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board did not provide figures.

Shadow Mental Health Minister James Evans of the Welsh Conservatives raised the issue with the Labour Deputy Minister in the Senedd, pointing out that a prompt autism diagnosis is crucial for children to receive the support they need in their schools and homes.

Mr Evans criticized the Labour government, saying that they are delivering unacceptable waiting times to the Welsh people and adding that 800 children waiting over two years for an autism diagnosis is yet another issue to the worst A&E waits in Britain, the longest NHS waiting list in the UK, and slowest ambulance response times on record.

The Integrated Autism Service (IAS) was rolled out across Wales in 2017 but has faced questions regarding its effectiveness in providing services to autistic individuals.

Long waiting lists for assessments and diagnoses have developed, and a lack of reporting mechanisms has made it difficult to judge the demand for support and the capacity of the IAS to meet that demand.

The ONS estimates that the UK has an autism prevalence rate of over 1 in 100 people.

The National Autistic Society reports that at least one in three autistic adults experience severe mental health difficulties due to a lack of support, and 70% of autistic adults would feel less isolated if they received more support.

This new report highlights the urgent need for improvements in the Welsh NHS’s autism service to ensure that children receive timely diagnoses and the support they need.

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