Children face lengthy waits for autism assessments

Children with autism face long waits for assessment
Children with autism face long waits for assessment

Almost half of children with autism in the Western area who were referred for assessment in the past year had to wait longer than 13 weeks, it has emerged.

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety was asked what percentage of children with autism waited longer than 13 weeks from referral to assessment in each Health and Social Care Trust in the last three years.

Minister Jim Wells replied by producing a table of statistics provided by the Health and Social Care Board for each Trust area.

They showed that, that at March 31, 2013, 7% of children in the Western area had waited longer than 13 weeks.

On the same date in 2014, there were no children waiting for that length of time.

However by March 31, 2015, the percentage had soared to 49% of children waiting for more than 13 weeks between referral and assessment in the Western Trust area.

Belfast had the worst statistics, at 30% (2013), 0% (2014) and 75% (2015). The Southern Trust area had no children waiting for longer than 13 weeks in any of the three years.