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Plaid Cymru: Families 'let down' by Autism Bill rejection

Credit: PA

Plaid Cymru has said the rejection of a proposed Autism Bill in the Assembly has "let down" autistic people and their families.

The bill, developed alongside the National Autistic Society, had intended to provide autistic people with a statutory right to receive timely services to meet their needs. It was hoped the bill would also help improve understanding of the condition.

Helen Mary Jones AM for Llanelli with Autism Bill campaigners. Credit: Plaid Cymru

Speaking after the bill was rejected by 28 votes to 24, Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Cabinet Minister for Health said families were "profoundly disappointed" by the vote.

The distressing evidence we received from people with autism and their families of the challenges they face to get some kind of diagnosis, of identifying support where support is needed, where it exists at all, of getting access to their support shows how desperately legislation is needed.

There's a shocking lack of consistency nationally, and where things are good, they are too often dependent on skilled and caring individuals in certain professions.

– Helen Mary Jones AM

The Welsh Government said it agreed there is a need to improve the services available to people with autism and is investing £13 million to deliver an integrated autism system available across Wales.

The Welsh Government also said it is consulting on a statutory code to further improve access to care and standards for people with autism and ASD.

We have been clear from the outset that there are other ways of achieving improvements than legislation, which has the potential to divert valuable resources away from support services people with autism and their families need. These reforms to autism services in Wales must be given the opportunity to prove their worth, or otherwise, before we move to legislate for change.

– Welsh Government spokesperson