THOUSANDS of frustrated patients across Coventry and Warwickshire are being left waiting to receive a diagnosis for autism or ADHD.
A Freedom of Information request by the Observer has revealed around 1,700 under 16s and 300 adults were waiting to be diagnosed for autism, which can affect communication and how a person experiences the world around them.
It takes an average of 40 to 50 weeks for an appointment through Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust (CWPT), which oversees mental health services in the area.
And some 300 youngsters and 100 adults are having to wait 30 weeks to see a specialist to find out if they have ADHD – which causes inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.
But patients say they are being forced to wait for much longer, with many seeking expensive private appointments as they fear it could be years before they or a loved one were treated.
The mum of a Warwick youngster, who did not wish to be named, said her daughter was struggling at school because of her illness and she was slowly getting worse – even to the point of physically attacking her family.
But she was not receiving support because of the lack of diagnosis to see if she was autistic.
The mum-of-three said: “We have been waiting for more than a year and have been told we are looking at another 18 months minimum. Now we’re starting the mental health assessment privately which will cost us £2,000 – money we don’t have.
“My fear is she can mask her symptoms so well around strangers. If she does that the money will be wasted and we’ll be back to square one.”
And 37-year-old Danny Wilkinson from Coventry has been told he has ADHD but cannot receive treatment as he is yet to be officially diagnosed – something only done across the area by four staff treating adult patients and 19 for children.
Danny saw a doctor privately after discovering he had a minimum wait of 12 months before his assessment and 18 months before he received treatment.
But he was worried for those who could afford to pay.
He said: “ADHD is having a big knock-on effect on my life. My concern is for other people who are in a worse situation than me and my worry is that they will be on a bridge jumping.
“I’m going to go private but the problem with that is that I now have to have all my treatment privately too.”
CWPT accepts the waiting list for ADHD and autism care was too long and was working to ‘address’ the issue.
Mental health community services associate medical director Dr Richard Onyon told the Observer: “The adult neurodevelopmental service is newly established. It was commissioned to cover an area of previously unmet need for adults, and is based on national best practice guidance.
“To date, the service has been a success and benefitted a number of patients in the area, however the needs are greater than were anticipated, hence a waiting list has built up which is longer than longer than we would like. We continue to work with our health commissioners to address this.”