Families left ‘in limbo’ waiting 24 months for children’s autism assessments

By Joe Coughlan, Local Democracy Reporter

Families are waiting up to 24 months for autism assessments, according to a local councillor.

Labour councillor Kathy Bance said at a Bromley full council meeting on Monday that families were “in limbo” awaiting autism assessments for their children.

Cllr Bance asked Conservative councillor Kate Lymer at the meeting what the current waiting time was for the assessments.

The cabinet member for children, education and families responded by saying it was 18 months as a result of rising demand nationally for assessments.

But Cllr Bance said two parents in her ward had contacted her to say they had been told it would be 24 months until their child could be assessed by the health department.

Cllr Bance said at the meeting: “We have parents whose children are literally in limbo with this long protracted wait time for assessment, so I’m just wondering if there is anything that can be put in place to engage with these children even if it’s not exactly what they need? Just so that they’re not just left all this time with no support for the parents and the children actually doing nothing?”

Cllr Lymer said the council had worked with the South East London integrated care board (ICB) to develop an autism strategy for the next four years to better understand what was needed to shorten the waiting time. She said that autism assessments were overseen by the ICB and delivered by the Oxleas and Bromley Healthcare NHS providers.

She added: “Both organisations are very aware that this level of waiting time is clearly not in the interest of our young people, and have recently agreed additional resources to speed up initial contacts and triaging of cases. They are already seeing some early improvements in waiting times.”

The Bromley All Age Autism Strategy estimated that there were 5,300 adults who had autism spectrum condition (ASC) in Bromley, according to data from 2020.

Cllr Lymer said the council and the ICB had also recruited a project manager to improve support services in the borough.

(Picture: Pixabay)

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