A consultation on the delivery of autism services in Wales has been launched by Health Secretary Vaughan Gething.
The consultation proposes a new Code of Practice to strengthen support for autistic people and their families and carers. It will set out the requirements placed on public authorities in the following areas.
- Arrangements for assessment and diagnosis
- Arrangements for accessing care and support
- Arrangements for awareness raising and training
- Arrangements for planning, monitoring and stakeholder involvement
The consultation aims to ensure local health boards and local authorities and their partners understand their existing duties to provide needs based services, including support for carers.
Vaughan Gething said:
“We have made a firm commitment to improve autism services here in Wales.
“We listened when we were told that despite progress, some autistic people and their families and carers were still struggling to access the support they need. We renewed our national plan in 2016 which ensured we had in place a needs based approach to the development and provision of autism services.
“We also put in place a National Integrated Autism Service which is available in five regions in Wales and will be available in Western Bay and West Wales this financial year. At the same time we made significant investment in neurodevelopmental services for children and young people to improve assessment and diagnostic waiting times.
“Crucially, through existing legislation, the Code we will put in place will have strong powers enabling Welsh Ministers to take action to intervene where services do not meet satisfactory standards.
"This includes ensuring staff training, compliance with requirements to undertake assessments in a timely manner and to collect data as required. We will require local authorities and health boards to consider autism as a stand alone key theme when undertaking future population needs assessments, to be published in local area plans.
“The publication of this consultation document takes place at a time when there is significant discussion and debate about autism specific legislation in Wales.
“It is not additional legislation which is needed to make faster progress, but rather effective implementation of existing legislation and the new plans and services that are currently being put into place. The Code we are consulting on is key to guiding this.