29 September 2016
In Southport, and across the rest of Sefton it takes an average of 4 years to diagnose a school aged child with autism, and Rick Furness, a local Green Party campaigner says this is ‘entirely unacceptable.’
As a parent of a child on the Autism Assessment Pathway in Southport, and another with a diagnosis of autism from a different area, Rick says ‘It quickly becomes clear that this process across Sefton, is inefficient, not fit for purpose, and very much based on an ad hoc, undefined approach. An internal audit has proved that across Sefton, it takes an average of 4 years to diagnose a school aged child with autism from the time of referral. Yet nothing is being done about it, and this has gone on for far too long. Every step on the pathway, requires separate referrals, and it has been evidenced that overall, the waiting times for each appointment, are massively outside clinical guidelines.’
‘The results of such delays can be catastrophic for everyone involved.’ Rick claims, having experienced this with his own children. ‘The child who doesn't understand their own difficulties for example, and who is left without vital interventions; the family who desperately need help to support their child and maintain equilibrium in the home; and interestingly, with the current system being so inefficient and time consuming, the financial implications and waste of public funds must be severe!’ Rick goes on to say ‘I recognise that every child is unique, and taking the time and necessary steps, to ensure the diagnosis is appropriate is understandable. However, when the delays are due to a system filled with red tape, ridiculous waiting times, staff shortages and inconsistencies in theories between professionals, children’s life chances are seriously threatened.’
Sefton Green Party are now demanding that changes be put in place immediately, to radically improve local assessments for autism. ‘Put simply, this must change with immediate effect, and Sefton's Autism Assessments brought in line with clinical guidelines at least. Simple, clearly defined steps, coming from a single referral for assessment, must be identified and put into practice. It is obvious to say, that decisions must now be made, that prioritise the health and wellbeing of children and families across Sefton. However, a clearer, unified pathway, would surely bring the additional benefit, of a more cost effective approach that protects public funds.’
Rick is appealing to everyone across Southport and the rest of Sefton, to please support this campaign and to sign his petition at the link below.
Likewise, if you want to contact Rick directly to support his campaign, you can do so on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rickfurnessgreen