A new autism strategy and implementation plan was adopted by Rotherham Council in June 2020, but health specialists say the waiting times are a worry.
In an annual update report, Helen Sweaton, joint assistant director, commissioning, performance and inclusion at RMBC, in collaboration with Rotherham Clinical Commissioning Group, lays out the service’s performance over the past year.
The average waiting time for a first appointment with CAHMS (children and adolescent mental health services) is six weeks, and the average waiting time for treatment to start is almost eight weeks.
“Between May and August 2021 the service struggled to triage and assesschildren within six weeks. This meant some children waited too long forassessment. In recent months this has improved,” adds the report.
“Since October 2018 it has been apparent that the diagnostic capacity was not sufficient to meet demand. Identifying sufficient capacity to meet demands for Autism diagnosis is a national issue due to increasing awareness, demand and a challenging workforce position”.
On Ofsted inspection of SEND services in July found that “children and young people are waiting too long for diagnosis via the multi-disciplinary diagnostic pathway for autism spectrum disorders.”
Inspectors found that although local leaders recognised this is “unacceptable”, more needed to be done to ensure children’s, young people’s and their families’ needs are met in a “timely manner”.
A written “statement of action” will be required, to explain to Ofsted and the CQC how health bosses will tackle areas of “significant weakness”.