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MP Discovers Scandal of No Autism Assessments on the NHS in Leeds

Leeds North West MP, Alex Sobel has uncovered the startling truth regarding the dire state of autism assessment services in Leeds, sparking concerns over the well-being of children and families grappling with autism spectrum disorders.


Alex has been helping several families within his constituency regarding the difficulty in obtaining autism assessments. He recently conducted a survey of his constituents to judge the level of families struggling either in obtaining an assessment for their child or receiving the necessary treatment following an assessment.  


These enquires also exposed a distressing gap in the provision of pre-school autism assessments in Leeds. Mr Sobel wrote to the Secretary of State for Health and Social care, Victoria Atkins MP, to ask if she would make an assessment of the adequacy of the number of professionals able to offer pre-school autism assessments in Leeds.


His request was answered by Maria Caulfield MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care revealing there are no concrete plans in place to address this critical issue. It has come to light that the West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board (ICB) has failed to prioritise the urgent need for professionals capable of offering these assessments, leaving countless families in limbo.


Alex explained that ‘The West Yorkshire ICB's explanation of a temporary suspension of pre-school autism assessments due to a shortage of professionals is simply unacceptable. Families should not be left waiting indefinitely for essential services that directly impact the well-being and development of their children.


While it is encouraging to hear that one full-time equivalent clinical psychologist has been recruited, the timeline for the service to resume operations by the end of June 2024 is far from reassuring. Every day of delay represents a missed opportunity to provide timely support and intervention to those in need.


Furthermore, the national framework and operational guidance for autism assessment services published by NHS England in April 2023, while a step in the right direction, must be swiftly and effectively implemented at the local level. It is not enough to have guidelines in place if they are not being translated into tangible action and meaningful support for individuals and families affected by autism.’


Alex is calling for urgent action to address this scandalous oversight and ensure that no child or family in Leeds is left without access to essential autism assessment services.


Alex concluded ‘The well-being and prospects of our children must be a top priority, and it is incumbent upon the authorities to take immediate steps to rectify this unacceptable situation.’

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