By Lucy Ashton
Almost half of children referred for autism assessments have had to wait for more than one year, it has been revealed.
Of the 12,500 Scottish children in line to be assessed for Autism Spectrum Disorder, 5,700 have been waiting over 12 months, according to Freedom of Information responses to the Scottish Conservatives.
Worse still, one in five children – 2180 – have been waiting more than two years, and 240 upwards of four years.
And – as four of Scotland’s 14 NHS health boards claimed not to have information on waiting times – the true number of children awaiting assessment is almost certainly higher.
The Scottish Conservatives have called for action to bring down waiting times and help children and parents to get the support they need.
Graham Simpson and Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s Health Minister.
Scottish Conservative MSP for Central Scotland, Graham Simpson, said: “For families with children waiting to get assessed, these shocking figures will strike a depressingly familiar chord.
“These delays are unacceptable. Having to wait a year for diagnosis and support to be put in place could be seriously detrimental to a child with autism – but having to wait more than four doesn’t bear thinking about.
“It will undoubtedly also have an impact on parents, who may be struggling to cope with the unique challenges of raising a child with autism without any extra help.
“Sadly these huge delays for assessments are symptomatic of a wider waiting-times crisis in Scotland’s NHS that has developed on the SNP’s watch.
“Poor workforce planning by successive SNP Health Secretaries has led to a shortfall in frontline medical staff across our NHS.
“Humza Yousaf is currently letting down children and their families, so he must act immediately to help bring these awful waiting times down.”