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Demand for Autism and ADHD diagnostic pathways increasing

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Tuesday 05 March 2024

A new initiative is shortly being launched to provide additional capacity for the Children's Autism Diagnostic Service, to help address increased demand.

The initiative, approved by the Committee for Health & Social Care and the Policy & Resources Committee, will see a UK-based specialist company commissioned to undertake additional assessments during a six-month period.

The Committee for Health & Social Care is also exploring potential options to increase the capacity of the ADHD Diagnostic Clinic, which is facing similar challenges with demand for assessments for both adults and children increasing in recent years. This pathway is currently at capacity so while people are still being referred and added to the waiting list, it is not possible to offer newly referred individuals a confirmed assessment date at present. HSC is aware that this is not unique to the Bailiwick and is the experience of other jurisdictions.

A letter will be sent to those affected and further information will be provided once a plan for increasing capacity has been finalised.

Children's Autism Diagnostic Service

The Children's Autism Diagnostic Service has been open to referrals from the community since October 2021. In this time, there have been considerably more referrals for autism assessment received than the team has had capacity to see - currently about 250 children are awaiting assessment. This can be a stressful situation for young people and their parents/carers who want to understand their child or young person's needs so that appropriate support can be put in place.

Psicon, a UK-based specialist company has been commissioned to undertake assessments during a six-month period.  Children and young people who will be assessed by Psicon have now been identified and the Autism Diagnostic Service will be in touch with those families in the next few weeks to explain the process for the assessment and answer any queries that they may have.

ADHD Diagnostic Clinic

The ADHD Diagnostic Clinic is currently at capacity, which means anyone who has not already received confirmation of an assessment date will remain on the waiting list. Demand for assessments for both adults and children has grown significantly in recent years. For example, it is estimated that 10 years ago about 20 adults were referred for assessment; last year there were about 230. Likewise, the number of children referred for assessment has increased, with 24 referred in 2020 rising to 133 in 2023.

Deputy Al Brouard, President of the Committee for Health & Social Care, said:

'The increasing demand many of our services face is something we have talked about a lot lately, and these are two more examples. We cannot control the demand for the diagnostic pathways, where people are referred into from their GPs, and we recognise how important they are for those they support - and how frustrating the wait can be for them and their families.

'We're grateful to the Policy & Resources Committee for supporting our desire to introduce a new initiative seeking to get more children through the assessment pathway for autism diagnoses and we hope the six-month partnership with Psicon helps.

'Our Committee is also acutely aware of similar challenges faced by our ADHD Diagnostic Clinic, which simply cannot keep up with demand. We are looking to increase capacity in that service in the coming months but in the meantime would ask for those people waiting an assessment appointment to please bear with us and the team running the service.'

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