Angus family go private after facing three-year wait for son’s autism diagnosis on NHS

Posted: 4th January 2023

An Angus family is going private to get their son’s autism diagnosed after being told they would be waiting three years on the NHS.

New figures show hundreds of children are having to wait years to be assessed for neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism, ADHD and cerebral palsy.

And the Scottish Conservatives say “intolerable” waiting times are leaving families with little choice but to fork out for private treatment.

The party is now calling on Health Secretary Humza Yousaf to take drastic action to cut down the waits of up to three years for a neurodevelopmental assessment.

Family’s concern

Dundee-based MSP Tess White says the Angus schoolboy, whose parent contacted her to express their concerns, are exploring private treatment options 100 miles away from home.

The North East politician said: “These waiting times are absolutely intolerable for young people and their parents, who are waiting years for assessments which could change their lives.

“A constituent in Angus was recently quoted three years for their son to get an autism diagnosis and has had to investigate using a private provider in Glasgow.”

In 2020, NHS Tayside’s Child and Adult Mental Health Service (CAHMS) split its mental health referrals and neurodevelopmental referrals.

As of the end of 2022, 1,500 young people were waiting on an appointment for a neurodevelopmental assessment.

This includes assessments for autism and ADHD.

The figures show 126 of these young people have been waiting between two and three years for their assessment.

A further 580 have been on the waiting list for between one and two years, and 771 for up to a year.

At the same time there are 383 children waiting for a CAHMS assessment for a mental health problem such as anxiety or depression.

None have been waiting more than 12 months.

‘Humza Yousaf must take action’

Ms White says the redesign of CAHMS, which saw neurodevelopmental conditions and mental health split, has taken an “overstretched” service and “pulled it in a different direction”.

She added: “Unnecessary delays can have a seriously detrimental effect on the child, and a tremendous impact on the parents who are already struggling to cope under a cloud of uncertainty.

“This waiting times crisis is the result of poor workforce planning by successive SNP health secretaries.

“Humza Yousaf must now take immediate action to reduce these abysmal waiting times.”

Additional nurses recruited

NHS Tayside said health boards across Scotland have seen an increase in referrals to CAMHS, and said it recognises waiting times “are longer than we would like”.

A spokeswoman said the health board has recently recruited extra nurses and allied health professionals to help meet the growing demand for CAMHS.

They added: “CAHMS is also continuing to work with specialist online service Healios to provide video appointments for children and young people across Tayside, including those from the neurodevelopment pathway waiting list.

“This provides additional service capacity to offer appointments at times that suit the children and their families, enabling them to be seen sooner and reduce waiting times.”

The Scottish Government has been approached for comment.

Source: The Courier

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