Long term plan identifies need to stop overmedication

Programmes to stop the overmedication of people with a learning disability or autism will be expanded under proposals set out by NHS England.

As part of The NHS Long Term Plan, action will be taken to tackle the causes of preventable deaths, with the expansion of Stopping overmedication of people with a learning disability autism or both and Supporting Treatment and Appropriate Medication in Paediatrics (STOMP-STAMP).

The public body will also pilot a health check for people with autism, and if successful, extend it more widely.

NHS staff will receive information and training on supporting people with a learning disability and autism. By 2023/24, a ‘digital flag’ in the patient record will ensure staff know if he or she has a learning disability or autism.

The plan said: ‘We will work with the Department for Education and local authorities to improve their awareness of, and support for, children and young people with learning disabilities, autism or both.’

Over the next three years, autism diagnosis will be included alongside work with children and young people’s mental health services to test and implement effective ways to reduce waiting times for specialist services. ‘This will be a step towards achieving timely diagnostic assessments in line with best practice guidelines,’ the 136-page document said.

NHS England will also focus on improving the quality of inpatient care across the health service and independent sector.

Responding to reducing waiting times set out in the plan, the National Autistic Society said: ‘There’s very little detail about how they [NHS England] plan to achieve this at the moment but we’re expecting, and will be calling for, more information in the coming weeks and months.

The society welcomed the pledge to pilot a health check for autistic people. It said: ‘This could really help address health inequality, particularly alongside efforts to increase understanding of autism and make sure health care providers are making reasonable adjustments. We hope to see regular health checks rolled out more widely, once the pilot is completed.’