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A Resized Autism Image cbAugust 3 2017

GPs are being asked to set up and maintain a register of all patients who have a diagnosis of autism. Such a system would mean that people on the autism spectrum would “receive the tailored care they need.”

The recommendation is made in a new Quality and Outcomes Indicator published on July 31. Having a register would “mean patients on the autistic spectrum will be easily identifiable to healthcare professionals working within the GP surgery,” said NICE.

“This will help the staff to adapt their approach to suit their patient’s needs – for example, nurses can ensure children on the autistic spectrum are called for vaccinations at the beginning of surgeries when the waiting rooms are quieter and could turn down lights for those with sensory problems.”

THE QS follows on a year after the Westminster Autism Commission report. This had recommended that having an appropriate QOF would lead to a National Primary Care Register and end the statistical ‘invisibility’ of autism in the healthcare system.

It is estimated there are 700,000 people with autism in the UK. Around 70% of autistic adults say they do not get enough social service support and one in three will experience a mental health problem, said NICE.

Dr Andrew Black, GP Mortimer Medical Practice and deputy chair of the NICE indicator advisory committee, said: “GPs play a vital role in helping vulnerable people to get the correct diagnosis and the support they need. This new NICE indicator will help them to achieve that.”

While the WAC report found most people with autism felt a register would be beneficial to them, it is accepted that “some people may feel being on a register means a label will be placed upon them, and this makes them uncomfortable.”

The new NICE indicator requires patient registry details to be kept anonymous outside of the GP surgery. This is so the data can be used to generate a national picture of the care people with autism receive.

“It is important that we reassure that their medical notes are confidential and any national data will be anonymised,” added Dr Black.

Links:
NICE announcement       
NICE QOF              
Westminster Autism Commission report              

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