MPs: DH must face review of autism strategy after one year

The Department of Health must face a progress review on the implementation of its adult autism strategy, due in 2010, after one year, MPs said today.

A report by the House of Commons’ public accounts committee said that to be effective, the strategy should address how the government will implement each of the recommendations made in a National Audit Office report published this summer.

It said this should include specific timeframes and indicators to measure progress and performance and it recommended that the NAO, which reports to the PAC, should revisit this topic in 2011 to review progress in implementing the strategy.

Previous work

The NAO’s report, whose findings were echoed in today’s PAC study, said autistic adults were being denied appropriate support because councils and primary care trusts lacked information on them and awareness of the condition.

The NAO’s recommendations included for PCTs and councils to collate existing data to identify and record all adults with autism in their area; for best practice on transition planning for young adults to be identified, and for the Department of Health to produce commissioning guidance on autism.

Left to fend for themselves

Public accounts committee chair Edward Leigh MP said: “Adults with autism are being left to fend for themselves, with all the consequences this has for their access to further education, benefits or employment, and for their mental health.”

He added: “The Department of Health’s proposed autism strategy, to be published by April 2010, is an excellent opportunity to set out how each of the recommendations by the National Audit Office and this committee is to be implemented and by when.”

Among other recommendations the report called on the NAO to carry out a further, more wide-ranging study to identify where barriers exist to closer joint working among agencies working with people with autism.

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