Harrogate Hospital

Harrogate Hospital acts to reduce waiting times for autism assessments


Harrogate Hospital has taken action to reduce the waiting time for an autism assessment.

  • Waiting times for an autism assessment had been over 2-years
  • Autism is a developmental disorder that is of variable severity that is characterized by difficulty in social interaction and communication 
  • Having a formal diagnosis gives access to the right support

Sarah Walters, General Manager for Children’s and County Wide Community Care at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, said:

There is currently a significant wait for an autism assessment in Harrogate district. It is expected that children and young people newly referred for an assessment could wait for over two years.

We have therefore been working with our NHS commissioners who provide the funding for the service, Harrogate and Rural District Clinical Commissioning Group, to look at ways to improve the waiting time from referral to assessment. We are aiming to reduce the time children are waiting for an assessment to three months by the end of next summer.

To help us to achieve this, the Commissioners have agreed to fund a Waiting List Initiative. This is an opportunity to try a different way of completing the autism assessment process. Together, we have redesigned the way in which we carry out the assessment, moving from the standard ‘one size fits all’ approach using the same assessment tools in the same way, to using a more ‘tailored’ approach, selecting and adapting those autism assessment tools which are the best fit for individual children’s needs.

We will continue to meet the clinical standards for autism assessment recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) although we recognise that we are not yet meeting the NICE standard of three months from referral to assessment. We will be asking for feedback from families on their experience of the new tailored autism assessment process.


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