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Govt plans could lead to reduced Autism Diagnoses

During the course of my job I receive a lot of enquiries from parents who feel that they are being failed by their GP and by their local Mental Health Trust because they are not able to access appropriate investigation for a child they suspect may suffer from Autism.

I am asked the same question over and again by these parents who often feel abandoned and alone…

Surely I know my child best?” and

“Why is no one listening to me?”

I have always had my suspicions that this may be due to cost, staff availability and politics.

Well, here we are heading into a General Election when it is announced that there are proposals to reduce the number of children being diagnosed with Autism by NHS commissioners in south-west London.   Nothing is said to have been decided yet but it seems clear that this is driven by cost and staffing restrictions.

So, it seems that I am right and that the reason GPs’ don’t appear to be listening is due to cost and time frames.  That does not help families who might be struggling or their children.

The sooner a diagnosis is achieved the sooner those children and their families can access the support (emotional, practical and financial) that they so badly need.

The National Autistic Society says it is “deeply concerned” about the plan.  Sarah Lambert, the charity’s head of policy says “If it goes ahead, this will leave many local children without access to a diagnosis and unable to access the specialist support they desperately need.”

This is not just the case with Autism.  Time and again I hear that people are struggling to access their GP or healthcare services for a specialist diagnosis and/or care and treatment.  If it something out of the ordinary or requiring more than the requisite 5 min consultation, it can be dismissed.

Human beings are individuals.  Their pain and frailties do not fit a uniform pattern or diagnosis.  The NHS was set up to provide care, to take time to get to the route of problems and to deliver that care to the community.

It is all very well to spout rhetoric about a failing NHS, junior doctors and nurses in peril and under huge amounts of pressure.  I sympathise but I will be honest, I sympathise a lot more with the person on the street trying to access the care that they are entitled to whether that be the parents of an Autistic child, a mental health patient or someone with a broken leg sitting in an Accident & Emergency department.

Melanie Lidstone-Land is a medical negligence lawyer as well as a mental health lawyer at Swain & Co Solicitors. 

If you or a loved one needs help with any issues mentioned in this article, Melanie and her team would be happy to give you free initial advice. 

Call us on 0800 0351 999.

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