What NHS Digital has announced

Today, NHS Digital (the part of the NHS in England that collects information about how health services are working) has announced some changes that it is going to make to one of its main data sets, called the Mental Health Services Data Set (MHSDS).

The MHSDS collects lots of information about how NHS mental health and learning disability services are performing. It also covers teams that diagnose autism.

Why it’s important

The changes that have been announced mean that information about autism can be collected. Importantly the changes have been made so that the numbers of autistic people trying to access services (like a diagnosis) can be recorded and how long they wait. 

This is a big step forward for our Autism diagnosis crisis campaign, which highlighted research showing that autistic people have to wait on average over two years to get a diagnosis. Getting a diagnosis is a crucial milestone and can help unlock vital support.

Measuring how long people have to wait for a diagnosis will mean that areas can plan their diagnosis services better. It also means that the Government and NHS England can check that each area is making progress in reducing their waiting times.

What happens next?

There are still a few more things that need to be sorted out before this information can start being collected. For example, all the services need to be told what they need to record and how to do it.

Earlier this month, Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price confirmed the Government’s commitment to start collecting this important information from April 2018.

The next stage of our Autism diagnosis crisis campaign will be to make sure that data on waiting times and the number of autistic people using mental health services is used properly. It needs to be used to make sure that there are enough services to meet the needs of autistic people in all areas of England.

Watch our video to find out more about today’s announcement.

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