Friday, 4 February 2011

Please ACT NOW and make important changes for Autism!

Our Campaign Manager, Carole Rutherford, recently attended a North East Autism Consortium where some of the important changes that will be taking place during the next two years were outlined. These changes include the implementation of the Autism Strategy, the change over from PCT to GP Consortia, the importance of local Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) and Health and Wellbeing Boards. 
NOW is the time to start asking questions of our Local Authorities to ensure that we are involved. 

Every Local Authority in England has a JSNA (Joint Strategic Needs Assessment)

The JSNA can, or at least should be found on your local council’s website. Some JSNAs have not been updated since 2007 when they first came into being. My own LA reviewed its JSNA in 2009 and autism was not included into the JSNA at that point.

JSNAs are now being reviewed because the transfer of power from the Primary Care Trusts (PCT) to the GP Consortia will of course change the JSNA.

‘The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 requires PCTs and local authorities to produce a Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) of the health and wellbeing of their local community.This guidance, which complements the statutory guidance Creating Strong, Safe and Prosperous Communities, provides tools for local partners undertaking JSNA. It describes the stages of the process, including stakeholder involvement, engaging with communities and recommendations on timing and linking with other strategic plans. It also contains guidance on using JSNA to inform local commissioning, publishing and feedback.’

Autism MUST be included within the JSNA otherwise there is no hope of any new services being commissioned for autism, because the JSNA is the tool which is used to inform local commissioning. The JSNA is where data for teens and adults with autism will be collected. Unless the data is correct the services will not meet the needs of adults with autism and will not plan the way ahead for services and provisions.
In some areas data is being collected via GPs.  

The questions to ask of your GP are:-
  1. How is autism coded on their system?
  2. Have they been asked for data regarding the number of patients they have with a diagnosis of autism?
  3. How do they trawl through their records to ensure that everyone who has autism and is one of their patients is included in the data that they are providing?
The JSNA is one of the drivers for the Autism Strategy making it vitally important for parents/carers and adults with autism to find out how they can feed into the JSNA.  Local Authorities MUST consult with stakeholders. Some are doing that right now. Parents, carers and adults with autism need to find out who the stakeholders are and how they can be included.

Although the Autism Strategy in no way reflects the needs of teens and adults with autism it does give us a framework to work with and with a strong local voice it is possible to ‘encourage’ your LA to actually improve on the strategy.

LAs will have a Health and Wellbeing Board. These boards are going to cover every aspect of health and wellbeing (as you would expect) and that includes autism. They are now very much at the forefront of our LAs because of the Health and Social Care Bill currently making its way through the system.

These boards are also going to be involved in the change from PCT to GP Consortia. Parents and Carers need to be finding out NOW how they can be involved and feed into the Health and Wellbeing Boards and also how they can help to shape the GP consortia in their area.

One way to find out what changes are happening now and how you can be involved is though your local LINK (Local Involvement – soon to be Health Watch) network. You can find your local link here
LINK must act if there are a group of people who are keen to be involved with something happening in their area which could affect their health.

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