Important news: NICE clarifies how guideline on critical care applies to autistic people
Published on 25 March 2020
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has updated its guidance for hospitals and doctors about when to send people who are ill with Coronavirus (Covid-19) to “critical care” wards. The amendment makes clear that doctors should be providing individualised assessments for autistic people.
Our charity, alongside others and many autistic people and families, were deeply concerned when the initial guideline was published and raised this with NICE. We were worried that the criteria that doctors are being told to use might disadvantage autistic people and prevent them from getting the right treatment.
NICE has listened and updated their guidance.
Responding, Caroline Stevens, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society, said: "This clarification will be welcomed by worried autistic people and families across the country.
"It makes clear that doctors shouldn’t be using the standard frailty test for autistic people who are seriously ill. Instead, they should be carrying out individualised assessments, based on each autistic person. This is vital to help autistic people get the right treatment. It will be important for doctors to understand autism and the needs of their autistic patients and listen to them, and their families, when they do these assessments.
"We know NICE is under pressure, like every part of the health service. And we are grateful that it listened to autistic people’s concerns and are taking action to make things right.
"If you are autistic and need to go into hospital because of coronavirus, there is information on our website that will help you understand what will happen, and resources to help you tell doctors about your needs."
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