NHS England has today announced that improving health and care for autistic people and people with a learning disability will be one of its top priorities throughout the next 10 years. This is one of only four priority areas confirmed so far, alongside mental health, cancer and cardiovascular disease. 

NHS England is developing a new long-term plan for improving health and care services. This plan will inform how the NHS invests the additional funding that it agreed with the Government in July and how the health service can meet the needs of an ageing population.

We’re thrilled to see the NHS prioritise autistic people’s health needs; this is a vital step forward. We know autistic people face unacceptable health inequalities and have been pushing for a number of years to get a stronger focus on the needs of people of all ages on the autism spectrum. We look forward to continuing to work with NHS England to make real improvements to the support autistic people receive for their physical and mental health. Together, we will be able to offer all autistic people longer, happier, healthier lives.

Jon Spiers, Autistica chief executive

In 2016, Autistica’s Personal Tragedies, Public Crisis report revealed the appalling rates of early death in the autistic community. The Government has since made “reducing the gap in life expectancy for autistic people” the top priority for their autism strategy in England. Today’s announcement about the NHS 10 Year Plan is another important step and we remain committed to campaigning for better, more autism-appropriate health and care services, greater awareness across the health service of the specific needs and preferences of autistic people and more high-quality research. We want to thank all of our supporters who have campaigned with us over the past three years to push these issues up the political and NHS agenda.