Calls for autism service to continue after contract end was announced

Hundreds of people are calling for an autism service to continue supporting families across South Staffordshire after providers were told their contract would end this month.

A Google Street View image of Midlands Psychology's office at The Hayes, Newport Road, Stafford
A Google Street View image of Midlands Psychology's office at The Hayes, Newport Road, Stafford

On Tuesday it was revealed that Midlands Psychology, based in Stafford, had received a good rating from the Care Quality Commission following an inspection in July.

But just days earlier parents were told that Midlands Psychology would be unable to provide further services, such as assessments or ongoing support, after it was informed by Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in late August that it would need to be able to hand over provision on September 30.

Midlands Psychology provides support to families living in the Stafford and Surrounds, South East Staffordshire and Seisdon Peninsula, Cannock Chase and East Staffordshire CCG areas.

An online petition has been launched to “save Midlands Psychology”, which had received more than 1,500 signatures by Tuesday afternoon.

The petition, launched by Roxanne Redford, stated: “Midlands Psychology is a provider for autism and learning disability care for children. However recently the Clinical Commissioning Group contacted Midlands Psychology with news of ending their service on September 30th 2019.

“This is leaving families in distress with mid assessments and no workshops. Alongside this service Midlands Psychology provide funding for AU-SUMS, which supports those currently experiencing problems and not attending school. The group was set up to meet a need for those children who are left with no provision and for the families that become isolated, lonely and often depressed.

“Midlands Psychology has been a blessing to myself and my children for 1:1 appointments, support and therapy. I have two children with full diagnoses and I don’t know where I’d be without the care and service from Midlands Psychology and the group Au-sums.

“I just want to stress how much sadness there is that the service of Midlands Psychology has ended, when it has helped thousands of families. Families need this, it’s local to us, the children recognise the building and familiar surroundings and relaxed atmosphere which makes a big difference to these children.

“Going to a new building with new people can cause so much disruption and anxiety to an autistic child with the fear of new surroundings and people that it can set them back on the progress that the current service has helped so much to advance.”

A spokesman for Staffordshire CCGs said: “We are aware there are still some concerns with parents about the provision of autism services in south Staffordshire.

“To clarify the situation, if a child or young person has been newly referred into the service and has not yet started the assessment process, NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidance states that they should commence assessment within 12 weeks from the initial referral date. As the current contract will end on 30th September 2019, these assessments will be provided by the interim provider.

“If a child or young person has started the assessment process, Midlands Psychology will complete all assessments they are able to up until 30th September. Under the terms of the current contract, Midlands Psychology are responsible for all medication and prescribing provision for children and young people already within the service until the contract ends on 30 September 2019.

“The CCGs are in discussions with local NHS providers about delivering autism services from 1st October 2019 and we will be able to confirm details on Friday 13 September 2019. There are a number of NHS providers able to deliver autism services for children and young people for south Staffordshire CCGs from 1st October 2019

“The CCGs are continuing to work with Midlands Psychology to ensure continuity of care as our priority is to provide safe and effective services for children and young people and their families.”

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