An investment of over £400,000 is being made by NHS Harrogate and Rural District Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in an effort to deal with demand for children’s autism assessments in the area.
In November 2013, the CCG Governing Body received a paper outlining the current autism assessment service provision for the Harrogate and Rural District. The paper highlighted that a service had been commissioned from Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust in 2012, which was based on national guidance about the predicted number of assessments needed for the local population. This predicted number has subsequently proven to be an underestimate and the demand for assessments locally has exceeded capacity. This has resulted in a significant backlog of over 120 assessments.
Dr Rick Sweeney, local GP and lead for vulnerable people at the CCG, said: We recognise that the current waiting list for patients requiring an autism assessment is unacceptable. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that assessments for autism should aim to be undertaken within 12 weeks of the patient being referred, and the local service is not achieving that currently.
In light of this, we are investing a significant amount of money firstly to deal with the backlog of assessments, and secondly, to ensure we have adequate ongoing provision for the future.