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Autism support set to become legal duty for NHS

By Nigel Praities

Supporting adults with autism could be made a legal duty for the NHS under a proposed bill being debated in parliament today.

The Autism Bill will force PCTs to consider the needs of the 500,000 people with autism in the UK when they are commissioning new services, if it becomes law.

NHS bodies will become legally bound to provide information and support for children and adults with autism and could face prosecution if they do not.

Conservative MP Cheryl Gillan was allowed to propose a the Private Members bill after coming top in a ballot of MPs. Some 6,000 people emailed their MP in support of it.

The Government is not expected to back the entire bill, but is believed to be planning to support the specific proposals to make councils and NHS bodies legally responsible to provide support for people with autism and will release plans to bring this into force.

Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society, said he was delighted as the bill as it would ensure action on improving the lives of people with autism.

‘This could be a landmark victory for people affected by this complex disability, but it is absolutely imperative that the Government categorically and publicly pledge in Parliament to deliver these vitally important changes. We will keep campaigning until we see real change at a local level,' he said.

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