April 12, 2023

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Patients are being failed by long waits for autism and ADHD assessments

NHS neurodiversity services are in crisis. Hundreds of thousands of patients have been waiting for at least a year for an autism or ADHD assessment, putting their lives on hold in the meantime. We know that living with undiagnosed autism or ADHD can have serious consequences on physical and mental health, education, work, and overall quality of life. Patients are left in the dark without support, and NHS organisations are breaching targets of 13 weeks between referral and appointment for autism assessments, and 18 weeks for an ADHD assessment. 

How CHS can help the NHS address waiting lists for autism and ADHD assessments 

With over 20 years of experience partnering with the NHS to support vulnerable people across the health and care system, CHS Healthcare are trusted experts in delivering digitally enabled services that ensure optimal health and wellbeing outcomes for everyone. Our workforce of 500 experienced clinicians and expert administrators is helping to add essential capacity to struggling services by offering remote, in-person and combined NICE recognised neurodivergent assessments, helping the NHS reduce waiting lists by approximately 25% so that people can receive the support they need to plan their future care with confidence. 

Contact Eleanor Norman to find out more about how we can help you. 

About our new report: Autism and ADHD: The damaging waits for assessment 

Published today, our new report, ‘Autism and ADHD: The damaging waits for assessment’ written in collaboration with The Brain Charity and The Donaldson Trust, highlights the urgent need for change within NHS neurodiversity services to support both patients and staff.

We’ve taken an in depth look at NHS data, and the findings bring into stark focus the true extent of the crisis. Based on the current rate of assessment, and without a change in approach, it will take the NHS over two years to process all the referrals of everyone currently waiting for an autism assessment alone. We also estimate that of the 2.6M people in the UK with ADHD, 2M (80%) are likely to be undiagnosed – 800,000 (40%) of whom may have to wait over a year for diagnosis.

Our recommendations

To address these issues, the UK government and service providers must change trajectory and improve NHS waiting times for both autism and ADHD assessments. Today’s report sets out ten actionable recommendations that will improve the situation for patients and services:

  1. Simplifying information and increasing transparency. Services need to ensure pathways and processes are as clear as possible to mitigate distress and burden for patients.
  2. Curbing the sharing of misinformation. Confusion around accessing diagnosis and support can lead to people seeking information from untrusted sources. Social media users need to know that professional services and signposting is available to them, should they have concerns.
  3. Improving access to support for those left waiting.Collaboration with external organisations can provide additional support to patients whilst waiting for assessments, without increasing workload for the NHS.
  4. Increasing oversight of ADHD services.The introduction of a national ADHD strategy and the implementation of better data sharing to improve oversight of ADHD services and ensure that ADHD and autism services are equally prioritised.
  5. Collaboration outside of traditional models to improve accessibility and efficiency.Clinical teams and different organisations working in silos can lead to further confusion and delay. Better communication across organisations can create a seamless experience for patients.
  6. Prioritising innovative solutions that speed up services.Initiatives such as remote working can unlock additional system capacity through existing staff and ensure the appropriate appointment modality is available for the appropriate context.
  7. Expanding workforce capacity.By utilising additional expertise available through external partners, the NHS can help commissioners, local authorities, and young people’s mental health services that are struggling with staffing numbers.
  8. Improving children and young people’s access to services. By diagnosing and supporting those with neurodivergent conditions early, we can limit the future impact on both the personal lives of those affected, as well as the healthcare system.
  9. Funding further research into ADHD. To improve understanding of the impact of this condition and the support that’s needed by those diagnosed.
  10. Removing the gender bias.To avoid misdiagnosis and improve outcomes for all, we must avoid gender gaps in research.

To find more about the damaging current situation read our new report Autism and ADHD: The damaging waits for assessment here:  Mental Health Services | CHS Healthcare

As originally seen on LinkedIn

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