To: Southport & Formby Clinical Commissioning Group/South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group
Change Autism Assessments In Southport & Sefton
Scrap the existing, inadequate Autism Assessment Pathway for Southport and Sefton. Then replace this, with a separately commissioned unified pathway, that has a single point of referral.
Why is this important?
My son was diagnosed with Autism around 5 years ago, but not in Sefton. His diagnosis was received through one, locally commissioned NHS Trust, and looking back, the pathway to diagnosis was founded on clear, pre-determined steps that every child in the area followed. This process was well defined and simple, whilst meeting all clinical guidelines; resulting in my son receiving a diagnosis of autism within 6 months of referral.
In comparison, my daughter is currently on the Autism Assessment Pathway in Sefton. As a parent, it quickly becomes clear that this process is inefficient, not fit for purpose, and very much based on an ad hoc, undefined approach. Across Sefton, it is well known that the result of this approach, is an average timespan of 4 years to diagnose a school aged child with autism, from the time of referral. Every step on the pathway, requires separate referrals, and it has been evidenced that overall, the waiting times for each appointment, are massively outside clinical guidelines.
The results of this are catastrophic for everyone involved: The child who doesn't understand their own difficulties for example, and who is left untreated; the family who desperately need help to support their child and maintain equilibrium in the home; and interestingly, with the current system being so inefficient and time consuming, the financial implications and waste of public funds must be severe!
In fact, the consequences of ignoring this cannot be underestimated, with further health issues arising, specifically from the stress and strain placed on children and families who are left powerless.
Put simply, this MUST change with immediate effect, and Sefton's Autism Pathway brought in line with clinical guidelines at least. Simple, clearly defined steps, coming from a single referral for assessment, must be identified and put into practice. It is obvious to say, that decisions must now be made, that prioritise the health and wellbeing of children and families across Sefton. However, a clearer, unified pathway, would also bring the additional benefit, of a more cost effective approach that protects public funds.