IT was, prophetically, the late Jo Cox MP who first to exposed the unforgivable length of time that it now takes to diagnose youngsters suffering from traits of autism. “Here is a crisis now so acute that some desperate parents are paying for help that by right they should be able to access on the NHS,” she told Parliament in March.
Then Ms Cox was aghast that it was taking more than three years for children to receive specific support to help them, and their families, with behavioural challenges. Nearly six months later, it gives us no pleasure to reveal how local families are still waiting up to 1,053 days – the best part of three years – for a basic assessment.
To put this in context, official NICE guidelines suggest the wait should be no more than three months. As the number of people on the waiting list grows by the week, no wonder families are in despair over an apparent lack of urgency; for example health chiefs in Leeds say they will be “working more efficiently” in a bid to meet national targets by next March.
Trying telling that to people like Vicki Reedman who has already been waiting since June 2015 for her six-year-old son Lucas to be properly assessed. Such families are enduring a living nightmare because the NHS is not only bereft of the resources, but basic empathy and humanity.