LAWYERS acting for campaigners opposed to a regional NHS pilot scheme they claim prevents adults being referred for life-changing assessments for autism and ADHD have called for the ‘immediate suspension’ of the policy.

The letter to the North Yorkshire and Humber integrated care board (ICB) from lawyers acting on behalf of the York Disability Rights Forum (YDRF) says the pilot breaches legal and statutory responsibilities, as well as national care guidelines and the NHS constitution.

It warns that if the pilot is not suspended, legal proceedings are ‘expected to be brought’.

A spokesperson for the ICB confirmed today that the letter had been received.

“The ICB will address the issues in that letter directly to lawyers representing YDRF,” the spokesperson said.

“The ICB is grateful for the feedback it has received so far on the pilot."

The legal challenge follows a crowdfunding campaign by the YDRF which has raised more than £7,000.

The ICB has said that the pilot allows them to ensure those who are most at risk are prioritised for care.

But the YDRF says that an FOI request has shown that 90 per cent of those seeking autism and ADHD assessments in York and North Yorkshire have been rejected by the pilot since March and will not receive any assessment, diagnosis or treatment from the NHS.   

The campaigners say GPs are no longer able to refer patients and instead have to direct them to an online survey - which only grants assessment to those facing 'immediate and life threatening health or family breakdown issues'. 

Hazel Kerrison, 36, from York, says her diagnosis with autism at 32 and ADHD at 34 transformed her life.

Before being diagnosed she was branded 'useless, lazy, spaced-out and awkward', she said. “On many levels I hated myself.”

She said being diagnosed helped her to ‘unlearn’ these judgments.

“I became able to learn how to work with my brain and not against it, I was able to learn to ask for accommodations, to ask for support, to ask for what I need,” she said.

Hilary Conroy, from the York Disability Rights Forum (YDRF), said: "Adults seeking autism and ADHD assessments have often been struggling their whole lives and have spent many hours, sometimes years, reading, filling in questionnaires and researching before approaching their GP.

“For the NHS to reject them outright and provide an online survey instead of care is appalling, and we must do everything we can to reinstate proper assessment, diagnosis and treatment for this highly vulnerable group."   

Henry Shelford, of ADHD UK added: "We are greatly concerned about the pilot in York and North Yorkshire, as it sets a precedent to deny NICE-recommended NHS care to people in need.

"We understand that this pilot creates a two-tier list - the first tier gets treated, and the second tier is effectively never treated. 

"This pilot means people in medical need are coming forward for help, their GP is recommending that help, formally referring them for assessment, but they're then being denied it."  

The ICB insists that the new referral process is a pilot only, and that it was continually being amended in response to feedback.

It says the experience of patients is its priority.