NHS Highland have confirmed that, as at 16 December 2020, 463 children are on the waiting list to commence neurodevelopmental assessment.
There are a further 200 referrals awaiting triage and the current waiting time is now 18 months.
These assessments are crucial for diagnosing children or young people with neurodevelopmental difficulties such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and other Learning Disabilities.
In a letter to Edward Mountain MSP, the Chief Executive of NHS Highland has confirmed:
“During the months that the schools were closed, and the inability to undertake an accurate assessment in the normal environment, the service was unable to both triage and carry out assessment effectively which resulted in a back log of referrals and increased pressures on waiting times. Triage recommenced at the beginning of September 2020, and children returned to school. The team are currently working through a backlog of referrals, which involves liaison with schools, health visitors, etc.”
“Due to the inability to contact schools during lockdown and an increased number of referrals being received since the reopening of schools, there are approximately 200 referrals awaiting triage that the team are working through.”
This information came to light following a Freedom of Information request submitted by Edward Mountain MSP.
Edward Mountain MSP commented:
“This is a crisis for our children and young people in need of treatment. This comes at a time when parents will be further worried about the impact the current lockdown will be having on waiting times for neurodevelopmental assessments too.
“A stricter lockdown makes diagnosis and treatment more challenging again, but every effort must be made to ensure children finally receive treatment in the safest possible way during the pandemic.
“The current 18 month waiting time could also have a detrimental impact on a child’s education as they may not be able to receive the additional learning support they need without a diagnosis. This could seriously hold back a child’s education.
“I am calling on the SNP Government to ensure that NHS Highland receive the urgent resources necessary to ensure neurodevelopmental assessments can take place wherever possible. Children and young people cannot afford to see waiting times spiral out of control even more.”