Outcry over autism referral scheme in NHS Lanarkshire amidst claims it's taking years

A call has been made to help vulnerable youngsters who are facing waits of years in NHS Lanarkshire to be assessed for autism.

Sign up to our GlasgowWorld Today newsletter

Graham Simpson
Graham Simpson

It comes from Central Scotland List MSP Graham Simpson after it emerged that one constituent within board boundaries was recently told that her son may have to wait 21 months to see a community paediatrician before joining a regional neurodevelopment assessment, which can take up to three years.

The Scottish Government’s current target is for children and young people to be assessed within four weeks of the identification of need.

Sign up to our GlasgowWorld Today newsletter

After The Scottish Conservative raised this question in Parliament with Kevin Stewart, the Minister for Wellbeing and Social Care, Mr Simpson he received an "incredible reaction" from other Lanarkshire families in the same boat. Some of the children involved cannot socialise or even attend school.

He plans to speak with a group of parents who have got in touch about the issue to hear their own stories before requesting another meeting with the minister.

Mr Simpson said: “I am confident NHS Lanarkshire are doing everything they can to try and reduce these waiting times but the Scottish Government needs to do more to help them tackle the backlog.Some of the stories I have received from constituents really are heart breaking and I intend to meet with families in the coming weeks before raising this again with the Minister”.

Mr Stewart said: “We are committed to implementing the “National Neurodevelopmental Specification for Children and Young People: Principles and Standards of Care”, which was published in September 2021. It specifies service standards that all children’s services should follow to ensure that access to support is effective and consistent across Scotland. More than £3 million was allocated to NHS boards in 2021-22 to build professional capacity in boards to support these children and young people.

“We’re aware that NHS Lanarkshire has appointed two waiting list co-ordinators and they are taking forward a validation exercise for child and adolescent mental health services and neurodevelopmental work which was scheduled to be completed in March.”