LOCAL leaders have urged action to be taken after revealing some adults and children in Barnsley are waiting up to seven years to be diagnosed with lifelong mental conditions.

There is currently no waiting time recommended for an ADHD assessment and the government does not currently collect data on diagnosis rates, according to Barnsley East MP Stephanie Peacock.

Her constituency is in the top ten per cent of the highest rates of people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in the country and believes more could be done to address the growing need for support for both ADHD and autism.

Referrals can be made by GPs or other health professionals, as well as speech therapists and special education needs staff within schools.

She said: “Myself and Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central, recently held a meeting to discuss diagnoses with parents in the local community.

“At the moment, children in Barnsley can be waiting over two years for an ADHD diagnosis, whilst adults can be waiting up to seven years in the worst cases.

“Long waiting times can be damaging for children with autism and ADHD as they are likely to miss out on school and suffer from detrimental mental and physical issues.

“I called on the government to invest more resources into SEND need across the country, to end the regional inequalities in diagnosis, and end excruciating wait times for those affected.

“Barnsley East is in the top ten per cent of constituencies with the highest SEND need in the country.

“This includes cases of ADHD and autism.”

According to latest figures from last year, around 115 of the 140 adults and children waiting for an autism assessment in the Barnsley area had been on the list for more than 13 weeks - the longest time someone should wait for a diagnosis following a referral, according to national guidance.

This was an increase from the 70 patients waiting longer than 13 weeks at the beginning of March 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Around 50 of those waiting for a diagnosis in Barnsley were under 18.

Part of the uptick in Barnsley may be explained by increasing demand for autism services - the data shows there were around 30 new referrals in the first quarter of this year - up from 15 in the first three months of 2020.

Tim Nicholls, head of influencing and research at the National Autistic Society - a charity supporting those with the condition - said a diagnosis can be ‘life-changing’ and is crucial to getting the right help and advice.

“Without proper long-term funding for diagnosis services across the country, we fear that the waiting list will continue to grow and people could be left waiting months or even years for a diagnosis.

“For many of them, this will mean struggling without support at school, work or home.”(