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Question for Department of Health

UIN 12040, tabled on 15 October 2015

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that primary care records accurately record the number of (a) children and (b) adults with a diagnosis of autism.

Answered on

23 October 2015

The Department has discussed with NHS England the difficulties that people on the autistic spectrum can have in getting an appropriate diagnosis in a timely manner. With support from the Department, NHS England and the Association of Directors of Social Services will undertake a series of visits to clinical commissioning groups to discuss good practice in meeting the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Quality Standard 51 Autism, and those that do not, with the aim of supporting more consistent provision. These NICE guidelines already recommend that there should be a maximum of three months between a referral and a first appointment for a diagnostic assessment for autism. We expect the National Health Service to be working towards meeting the recommendations. Information on the average waiting time for an autism diagnosis in Devon in each of the last three years is not collected centrally.

General practitioners (GPs) are required to keep adequate records of their attendance on, and treatment of, their patients and this should include details of autism where it is known. For this to work successfully locally services undertaking autism diagnosis should pass information back to the GP who has made the original referral. This is outlined in the recent Autism Statutory Guidance for local authorities and the NHS.

Answered by

Department of Health and Social Care