Conservative Manifesto

We will provide £74 million over three years for additional capacity in community care settings for those with learning disabilities and autism. 

We will make it easier for people with learning disabilities and autism to be discharged from hospital and improve how they are treated in law. 


Geoffrey's work on the issue

Geoffrey Cox has strongly championed improved services in Devon for those with autistic spectrum conditions (ASC) for several years, and previously sponsored the Autism Act in Parliament to give the strategy legal force, meaning that local authorities and NHS services who fail to provide support for people with autism are breaking the law. Geoffrey also supported the national Push for Action campaign, as part of which he wrote to both the Department of Health and Devon County Council to ensure that everything possible is being done to improve support for those with autism.

He takes a special interest in ASC provision in Devon and maintains a close working relationship with the North Devon Forum for Autistic Spectrum Conditions. He keeps in regular contact with the Forum and frequently takes up individual cases, on behalf of his constituents, with the DWP and other agencies.

“When a friend suggested that we got an appointment with Geoffrey Cox to help us obtain an ASD assessment for our daughter, we didn’t really think it would help much but this couldn’t have been further from the truth. We were amazed by the support offered by Geoffrey and his team. His empathy, experience and advice made a huge difference to our situation. As a result our daughter received a diagnosis within weeks and the process has now been improved for other families on the ASD pathway in Devon. We can’t thank the team enough for what they did for us and have encouraged others to go to Geoffrey with issues concerning them.” - M & Mrs B, Bideford

“My son has ASD, SPD, ADHD and possible PDA. He also has dyslexic tendencies.

“He was nurtured at Primary School, and thrived, but transition to Secondary School was painful.  He was unable to cope without appropriate support. He was misunderstood and bullied. His mental health was clearly at risk so, after careful consideration, I decided to home educate.  I fought for an EHCP, which was eventually awarded, but no funding was included. As other parents in a similar position will know, support for our SEN children is a constant battle. 

“As a single parent, it was a struggle coping with the extra expense of home educating my son.  After a meeting with my MP Geoffrey Cox, and thanks to his intervention, my son was finally awarded funding.  

“I can’t thank Mr Cox enough for his help as without it I doubt my son would have the funding to which he is entitled.” - Ms D Lucas, Bratton Clovelly

Last month, concerns were raised with him by Devon Partnership Trust over the current waiting time of approximately three years from referral to assessment, an issue which has arisen due to an increase in the number of referrals received, combined with limitations of the service in respect of the number of clinicians available to undertake assessments. 

Geoffrey raised this matter immediately with the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), stressing that as the NICE guidelines state that the waiting time should be no more than 13 weeks, the current waiting times in Devon inevitably mean that individuals are not receiving the educational, health and social support they need.

Geoffrey Cox said: “It is extremely concerning that current waiting times in Devon from referral to assessment can be up to three years. I have made clear to the CCG that steps must be taken to reduce this, to ensure that those who have this complex condition, receive the support they need as quickly as possible. 

“In response, the CCG have acknowledged the issue and given their commitment to improve the situation, actively working with Child and Family Health Devon (CAFHD) to reduce the time people are waiting for assessment and support. I am also advised that Autism and CAMHS services will be redesigned in order to ensure that new service specifications are implemented from January 2020, and I welcome their commitment to improving support to children and families pre-diagnosis and post-diagnosis.

“It is essential that waiting times are reduced and that support is made available as quickly as possible, and I will hold the CCG to the commitments made.”