Last reviewed 27 July 2021

The Government has announced that, as part of its new Autism Strategy, NHS England will be trialling a primary care health check for autistic adults in the North East to try and identify health needs earlier.

The strategy builds on and replaces the preceding adult autism strategy, Think Autism, which was published in April 2014. It extends the scope of the strategy to children and young people for the first time.

GP practices will be taking part in a randomised trial. It will look to recruit 200 autistic adults who have not had a recent NHS health check and will be evaluated by Newcastle University. A health checklist is being created and validated to be used in the trial, which will include a pre-appointment questionnaire about their sensory and communication needs, any reasonable adjustments needed and their general health and wellbeing.

Funding of £75 million this year has been earmarked to tackle the inequalities, speed up diagnoses and provide better access to health and social care for people with autism; £40 million of this will be to implement goals in the NHS Long Term Plan.

Measures set out in the five-year strategy include digital “flags” in patient records so that healthcare professionals are aware that someone is autistic and can tailor the support offered.

This will be rolled out to 12 early adopter sites this year.

Investment will also be put into reducing waiting times for diagnosis.

The strategy also aims to provide better access to education, more help to get into work, and prevent avoidable admissions to healthcare setting.

The policy paper, The National Strategy for Autistic Children, Young People and Adults: 2021 to 2026, is here.