Plans to cut wait times for autism diagnoses in Rotherham
A new autism strategy and implementation plan has been adopted by Rotherham Council in a bid to help people with autism access support quickly - including reducing the wait for a diagnosis.
Rotherham has higher recorded rates of children with autism in primary, secondary and special educational schools – with figures for secondary schools more than double the national average.
There has been a high level of requests for diagnosis for autism in children, which reflects the national picture.
Council cabinet members have now voted to adopt a new all-age autism strategy and implementation plan, which sets out ways the council will help people with autism access support and a diagnosis.
A report to the cabinet states: “We aim to reduce waiting times as autistic children; young people and their families have reported waiting much too long to receive a diagnosis.
“A joint plan between NHS Rotherham clinical commissioning group and Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Trust has been developed to reduce the diagnosis wait.
“A pilot began in February to increase capacity by commissioning a second provider, Healios, to work with RDaSH to offer a diagnostic pathway via on online platform.
“Such solutions are also encouraged in relation to addressing demand for diagnosis during the Covid-19 crises.
“Current average waiting time to access diagnosis services is 28 weeks.
“This is too long, as the expected waiting time is no longer than 18 weeks. The implementation plan seeks to reduce waiting times to ensure people are waiting no more than 18 weeks.
“Both as a society and a community, we can all do some simple things to improve the lives of people with autism. For example, businesses and amenities making small changes, such as reducing noise, distractions and putting in place clear signage, so their services can be enjoyed by those on the spectrum, and people with autism and their families are well supported.
“There is no post-diagnostic support offer for adults in Rotherham now. This means autistic adults may struggle to get the level of support to access health, welfare and work support they need following a diagnosis.
“We intend to address this.
“Rotherham CCG is investing £80,000 per annum to create a personalised, post-diagnostic service.”