Autism and ADHD Assessments

Steven Bonnar Excerpts
Monday 6th February 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Westminster Hall
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts

Westminster Hall is an alternative Chamber for MPs to hold debates, named after the adjoining Westminster Hall.

Each debate is chaired by an MP from the Panel of Chairs, rather than the Speaker or Deputy Speaker. A Government Minister will give the final speech, and no votes may be called on the debate topic.

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Steven Bonnar Portrait Steven Bonnar (Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

It is nice to see you in the Chair today, Ms Fovargue. I thank the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Elliot Colburn) for leading this vital debate, and my constituents in Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill who have signed both of the petitions.

In 2018, NICE updated its guidance for the diagnosis and management of ADHD, yet the provision of services for adults with the condition is not well understood across all the nations of the United Kingdom. The long-term consequences of failing to treat ADHD effectively are well known and well documented. Up to 65% of adults with ADHD who were undiagnosed in childhood tend to suffer from myriad mental health conditions such as mood and anxiety disorders, leading to clinical depression and even suicidal thoughts, as we have heard. A combination of poor understanding and delays in diagnosis means that 120,000 adults across the United Kingdom are currently waiting to be assessed. By improving the identification, care and management of ADHD in adults, we could reduce the number of adults reaching a point of crisis and developing the significant and myriad mental health conditions I have mentioned.

The Scottish Government fully understand the situation I have outlined and have committed to deliver a learning disability, autism and neurodiversity Bill, which is coming through the Scottish Parliament. As with every single piece of proposed legislation, working with those affected and those with lived experience will be at the heart of all that we do. The Scottish Government are currently actively recruiting neurodivergent people to take part in a panel that will help to design an inclusive consultation for the proposed new Bill. That is how real, effective policy should be made: through engaging with those persons who are most affected in their day-to-day lives. Of course, the final situation is problematic, but the Scottish Government have allocated £46 million to improve the delivery of mental health and psychological services, including CAMHS, psychological therapies, treatment for eating disorders, and neurodevelopmental services. A report by the National Autistic Society Scotland and Scottish Autism found that 96% of people surveyed support the introduction of the Bill both to promote and to protect the rights of autistic people.

In order to promote instrumental change, the UK Government must invest in early diagnosis and mental health support, and follow the lead of the Scottish Government with the introduction of a new Bill. Collectively, across the four nations of the United Kingdom, we must all do better in advocating for early diagnosis and ensuring that waiting times are lowered to encourage access to diagnosis and support. We must ensure that those who are disabled have their rights adhered to and fully respected.

In the proposed Scottish Government Bill, the SNP will pledge to create a learning disability, autism and neurodiversity commissioner, yet the UK Government have no plans for an equivalent position here in England. I ask the Minister: why not? Under the UK Government system, the position of Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work is a mid-level ministerial post in the Department for Work and Pensions, which has responsibility for every realm of legislation affecting disabled people. I do not think that is good enough.

There are potential merits to having a separate commissioner, independent of any Government, who may improve the lives of disabled people and better scrutinise the Government, leading them to act on health, education, criminal justice and other areas of society for neurodivergent people. There are similar roles in other countries, such as the health and disability commissioner in New Zealand and the mayoral office for people with disabilities in New York. I urge the UK Government to take urgent action and give those with neurodevelopmental disorders the attention and legislative commitments that they truly and rightly deserve.