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Irwin Mitchell’s Public Law & Human Rights Team Secure Autism Assessment For Client In Dispute With Bolton NHS

Specialist solicitors from Irwin Mitchell’s Public Law & Human Rights department successfully secured an autism assessment for a man after NHS Bolton refused to fund this.

Matthew Shaw, 35 had never had an assessment for autistic disorders even though he showed many of the symptoms associated with both autism and aspergers syndrome throughout his life. He had always struggled with communication and had other symptoms, including depression, difficulty with social interaction and repetitive behaviour.

Without a diagnosis of such disorders, Matthew was struggling to access the support he needed in the community and therefore instructed Irwin Mitchell’s Public Law & Human Rights team to act on his behalf. Irwin Mitchell’s specialist team wrote to Matthew’s local NHS Trust, Bolton Primary Care Trust, arguing that their policy in relation to autism assessments was discriminatory, as it did not allow Matthew to be assessed, for no valid reason.

Assesment Secured

The letter threatened NHS Bolton with a legal review of its policy on the diagnosis and treatment of autistic related disorder. Through the hard work of solicitors at Irwin Mitchell, NHS Bolton offered Matthew an assessment, which found that he did in fact have aspergers syndrome. This finding has now allowed Matthew to gain access to the support he needed in the community.

As a result of these findings, Irwin Mitchell’s input into this issue led NHS Bolton to check its policy on both aspergers syndrome and autism. A new policy has since been introduced, which included a pathways for diagnosing such disorders.

Stephanie Shaw, Matthew’s mother stated, "As Matthew's mother, I am very grateful for the work that Irwin Mitchell did on his behalf. Without their intervention, I feel that Matthew would never have received a diagnosis."

Mari Saeki, Project Officer for the National Autistic Society's Family Services Development Project, said:
"Getting a diagnosis is a critical milestone for people with autism and can unlock the door to identifying the right support, so it's good news that Matthew was finally able to access one.

"National duties established by the Autism Act (2009) make it clear that every area should have pathways to a diagnostic assessment of autism for adults.

"This year, the Government is reviewing progress of the act and our ‘Push for Action’ campaign calls on decision makers from Whitehall to town halls to continue putting the needs of adults with autism front and centre."

Similar Cases

Irwin Mitchell has also recently acted in a similar case, for our client ‘Jack’. Hertfordshire NHS Partnership Foundation Trust refused to provide an assessment of Jack, aged 20, because he was deemed not to meet the ‘Fair Access to Care Services criteria in the critical or substantial bands’.

Jack has experienced difficulties at college due to the increasing demands of his course and the requirement for social interaction. Without a formal diagnosis of autism, Jack was unable to access the much needed support to assist him at college.

Similarly to the case above, Irwin Mitchell wrote to Hertfordshire Partnership Foundation Trust arguing that their position in relation to autism assessments was in breach of their duty under the Autism Act. The Trust changed their position and agreed to complete a diagnostic and community care assessment for Jack. They also agreed to review their policy on the diagnosis and treatment of autism.

For expert advice on matters relating to accessing autism assessments and community care law, please contact Alex Rook or Mathieu Culverhouse of Irwin Mitchell's public law team on 0370 1500 100 or complete our enquiry form.

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