Concerned woman
Over the weekend, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published guidance for hospitals and doctors about when to send people who are ill with Coronavirus (Covid-19) to “critical care” wards. This will include people with the most severe symptoms. But we are worried that some of the criteria that doctors are being told to use might disadvantage autistic people.

Caroline Stevens, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society said
, “We are deeply concerned about how NICE’s new guideline on critical care could be applied to some autistic people.

“The NHS is under great pressure and the guideline is supposed to make sure that people who are seriously ill with the coronavirus get the right treatment. For doctors to make decisions about treatment, the guideline says they should assess someone’s “frailty”. But the way they do this is by looking at how much help people need doing things like making dinner, managing money or washing and dressing themselves.

“These are all things that some autistic people might find difficult but it doesn’t make them “frail”. It would be completely wrong for decisions about autistic people’s medical care to be made on this basis. NICE must provide doctors will specific guidance about how to support autistic people who need treatment for coronavirus.

“It’s essential that NICE get this right. We are contacting them to raise our concerns. Autistic people must not be disadvantaged or put in danger by how doctors make critical care decisions.”

Further information

We have Coronavirus information on our website. We will be expanding and updating this in the coming days.