AN MP and former GP has rallied the support of 142 of his new colleagues to demand urgent action on autism diagnosis times from health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Stockton South Labour MP Paul Williams led a cross-party group of MPs in a letter calling for a national waiting time standard of three months, in line with NICE guidelines, after it emerged some waiting times in his constituency were a staggering 44 months.

Children on the autism spectrum are having to wait up to four years to access services which are vital for helping them in their education and with social skills.

Loading article content

Dr Williams said: "This is an issue of profound unfairness.

"While children are waiting and their parents are struggling, they often don’t get much-needed access to support in school, and they fall behind their peers."

There was a further request that the Government also commit to setting a national standard for the completion of the assessments.

Dr Williams wants a maximum interval of three months from being referred to the start of specialist assessment.

The Department of Health recently agreed to record waiting times, starting in April 2018 until April the 2019, but the government made no further commitment to following up the data with targets.

Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, had last week told North Durham MP Kevan Jones it was 'unacceptable for someone to be waiting that long', when the issue of a two-year wait for a diagnosis was raised.

It is hoped once the data is measured the government will look at bringing in some kind of timeframe for diagnoses.

Children with autism are victims of a postcode lottery with waiting times varying by years depending on where they live.

While in Stockton the wait can be four years, it is understood to be just six months in neighbouring Middlesbrough.

Dr Williams has been working with autism charities, including Stuart Dexter, the chief executive of Stockton-based charity Daisy Chain, to try to get a fair deal.

Families from Daisy Chain helped inform a speech Dr Williams made in Parliament some weeks ago, alongside his Stockton North Labour counterpart Alex Cunningham.