Patients face long delays for autism diagnosis and support

Long waiting lists and more investment in mental health support were some of the issues raised in th

Long waiting lists and more investment in mental health support were some of the issues raised in the survey. - Credit: Archant

People suffering from learning disabilities and autism are facing long waits for a diagnosis and support, according to Healthwatch North Somerset.

The organisation carried out a survey to ask people how they would like to see extra Government money invested to improve health services in the area.

More than 30 respondents said they had waited two years or more to see a specialist, while another said they had waited six months to see a consultant, six months to have tests and a further six months to discuss the results.

People also said there was a lack of follow-up support and stressed more money should be spent on joining up services.

The report states: "Diagnosis is not always followed by support and support for carers needs to be improved.

"There is a lack of joined-up services for people with multiple conditions.

"Having more than one condition was considered to make things harder and could mean people missed out on care.

Most Read

"Workforce issues including lack of available staff, poor information sharing, handover and silo working by services make accessing and using care services difficult and at times led to failures in care provision.

"Difficulties in getting adequate support were common with a lack of support highlighted in mainstream education."

More than 600 people took part in Healthwatch's What Would You Do? campaign which encourage peopled to share their views on how services can be improved.

Vicky Marriott operations manager at Healthwatch North Somerset said: "We have relished this chance to work closely with Healthwatch England on their survey and were able to uncover some of the challenges faced by families and carers locally.

"We look forward to seeing their experiences inform how services develop."

Patients also said they wanted easier access to help, treatment and information when they needed it, shorter waiting times and longer appointments with their doctor.

The report states: "Waiting times to access services and support were highlighted as an issue.

"This was deemed particularly problematic where it was felt a quicker assessment or diagnosis may have prevented circumstances from deteriorating.

"This was frequently raised in relation to mental health services."

A spokesperson for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: "We know that waiting for a diagnosis of autism or a learning disability can be hugely frustrating and reducing assessment waiting times to help people get the care and support they need more quickly is one of our highest priorities."

"As part of our plans to achieve this, we are working in partnership with local authority colleagues and have developed clear, transparent and robust arrangements for joint commissioning to improve services and reduce waiting times.

"We will also develop the local offer for North Somerset to provide young people, parents and professionals with a single source of accessible information and ensure local people are aware of the support and services available.

"We will continue to work closely with the council and community health providers to implement these plans and provide local people with the right care and support for their individual needs."