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Autism and learning disability become a clinical priority in England

According to Autism-Europe’s member the National Autistic Society (NAS), the English National Health Service (NHS) announced on August 9th that ‘autism and learning disability’ will be one of four clinical priorities in their upcoming ten-year plan to improve health services in the country (this is often called the ‘long term plan’).

Over the coming months, NHS England will be engaging with organisations, professionals and individuals to identify the key issues within each of the four priority areas.

The NAS, together with autistic people and their families, aims at helping the NHS “make sure that people can get a timely diagnosis and post-diagnostic support, help for mental health problems and good care from doctors, dentists and other clinicians who understand autism. We will be doing everything we can to make sure that the NHS understands what does and doesn’t work for autistic people so we can make the whole system work better”.

Jane Harris, NAS Director of External Affairs:  “More than 1 in 100 people in England are autistic and they need support from health and care services, like GPs, pharmacies and hospitals, throughout their lives. But as we and our supporters have been saying for years, far too many autistic people wait for years to get a diagnosis through the NHS and to get the care and support they need. Many autistic people continue to have significantly worse physical and mental health than the general public – and may even be at greater risk of dying early. 

This announcement is a potential game changer. It will mean that autism is a core part of the NHS’ future strategy and that care can be shaped around autistic people’s often hidden needs. We look forward to working with NHS England to make sure this works for autistic people and their families.”