NHS must prioritise health of children and young people

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k1116 (Published 14 March 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k1116

The government must face up to the autism pandemic, and so must the RCPCH

It is perturbing not to get a response from Prof Viner and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, after my Rapid Response last week [1]. Since I wrote I have tracked down the figures for Scottish schools for 2017 (the disability numbers were published earlier this month, though not reported in the media). The number of children with an autism diagnosis in Scottish schools rose by 11.5% in one year. Between September 2016 and 2017 one year in the fifteen year rolling cohort departed, another arrived, and the total number of children with diagnosed autism increased by 1,550: the incidence of autism in Scottish schools went up from 1 child in 51 (684,415/13,423) to 1 child in 46 (688, 959/14,973) [1,2]. But the rate among younger children will be far higher. In 2005 the Department of Health gave a figure of 1 child in 100 [1].

At what point does this catastrophic phenomenon even get to be acknowledged? People talk about pandemics of infectious disease, but what do they think this is?

[1] John Stone, 'NHS must prioritise health of children and young people -what about autism?', 19 March 2018 http://www.bmj.com/content/360/bmj.k1116/rr

[2] Tables 1.1 and 1.8 http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/School-Education/dspupcensus

Competing interests: No competing interests

26 March 2018
John Stone
UK Editor
London N22