The Scottish Government has been accused of “abandoning” parents and children as new figures revealed the longest waits for autism and neurodevelopmental diagnoses.
Figures uncovered by the Scottish Liberal Democrats via freedom of information requests unveiled waiting times for disorders to be diagnosed across Scotland.
The longest wait observed was for 236 weeks, or four-and-a-half years, in NHS Ayrshire and Arran.
NHS Highland, Lanarkshire and Lothian all recorded waits of over three years.
Of the health boards who responded to a request for the longest waits for an autism diagnosis, NHS Fife recorded the longest – at 142 weeks, or 2.7 years.
Both NHS Ayrshire & Arran and NHS Highland reported that the average wait time for a neurodevelopmental diagnosis is more than a year.
Only one health board – NHS Borders – reported average waits for an autism diagnosis of less than six months.
Commenting, leader of the Scottish Lib Dems Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “For parents and children who are waiting on a diagnosis to open the door to support services these long waits will be depressingly familiar.
“The impact of waits of more than four years can reverberate for life. We owe it to our young people to ensure they get the support they need.
“Getting mental health support for young people is tricky enough at the best of times but for children with autism or neurodevelopmental conditions, a diagnosis can be crucial in getting support in other aspects of their life. Making them wait an inordinate length of time is unacceptable.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats have been banging this drum for years. It’s time the Scottish Health Secretary listened and acted to tackle yet another waiting times crisis on his watch.”
Minister for mental wellbeing and social care, Kevin Stewart, said: “The Scottish Government is committed to supporting autistic people and more than £3m has been allocated for the remainder of this year to help NHS boards build professional capacity and support children and young people with neurodevelopmental support needs.
“The National Neurodevelopmental Standard for Children and Young People published in 2021 sets out the principles and standards of care expected.
“This makes clear that support should be put in place to meet the child or young person’s requirements when they need it, rather than be dependent on a formal diagnosis.”