Wirral Learning Disability & Autistic Spectrum Disorder Profile (published July 2020)

This profile presents published data on the estimated population as well as those known to services as well as support offered by education, adult social care and health services.

Key findings/recommendations

This profile presents published data on the estimated population as well as those known to services as well as support offered by education, adult social care and health services.

  • Prevalence: There is an increase in the estimated prevalence of children with autism since the 2016 health needs assessment. This predicted the 2019 figure would be 746 but this profile estimates 1,316. Underlying prevalence has not changed significantly so this is likely due to adjustments made by Office for National Statistics (ONS) to population projections.

  • Projected Trends: The key trend to note is the increase in the number of older people with Learning Disability and Autism (LD/A), and how this might impact on local service provision particularly around earlier onset dementia and frailty. There will be a greater need to develop skills around LD/A in health and social care organisations who provide care for older people.

  • Numbers known to services: There is a significant discrepancy between the estimated population with LD/A and the numbers recorded on GP registers. This means that a high volume of people may not be receiving reasonable adjustments or support in order to access primary and secondary care services.

  • Support from Schools and Children's Services: Of particular note is the number of children presenting with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in both secondary and special schools. Analysis of the children and young people (aged under 18) who access inpatient mental health beds in Cheshire and Merseyside shows that the majority (c.90%) have an autism only diagnosis. Improving the skill mix to support children with autism in education should be considered, given the increased prevalence.

  • Children in Need (CiN): LD/A represents a substantial proportion of CIN who have a disability.

  • Support from Adult Social Care: Wirral supports less adults with LD per head of population than Cheshire & Merseyside, the North West and England.
  • The proportion of adults living on their own or with their families is lower in Wirral than in Cheshire & Merseyside but higher than England. It is consistent with the principles of Transforming Care.

  • The proportion in paid employment is lower than both Cheshire & Merseyside and England. Across Cheshire & Merseyside there are a number of initiatives to encourage young people into paid work, through Supported Internships primarily. There is a real need to increase the pace and consistency of this work across the footprint.

  • Although the number of Safeguarding (Section 42) enquiries involving people with LD has fallen recently the Wirral rate has been statistically higher than England from 2015/16 to 2018/19.

  • Mortality Rates: The death rate across England for people with LD is four-times higher than the general population. The average across Cheshire & Merseyside has been consistently higher than the England average. In Wirral it has consistently been lower, although the rate is statistically similar.

  • Screening/ Annual Health Checks: It should be noted that Health Checks are not offered to children under 14, or to people with Autism-only at present. This remains an area of significant challenge for Cheshire and Merseyside. In Wirral uptake has fallen. At 54.6% it is now higher than Cheshire & Merseyside average but below England.

  • Obesity: The rate of obesity for people with LD is considerably higher in all Cheshire and Merseyside CCGs compared to those without LD. Work to address this would significantly improve life expectancy and co-morbidity. Areas should consider targeted work around the STOMP/ STAMP initiatives and physical health and exercise.

  • Flu vaccination rate is low. Wirral has performed consistently worse than Cheshire & Merseyside and England. At 39.5% uptake, it falls some way short of the minimum 55% target and a significant way off the World Health Organization 75% ambition (those under age 65 in a clinical ‘at risk’ group).

  • Cancer: The low screening uptake for cervical and breast screening for people with Learning Disabilities is considerable. Previous co-produced work has been undertaken by the Transforming Care Partnership in relation to identifying Cancer Red Flags and Looking After Your Lungs. A targeted campaign to improve screening could be considered.

  • Long-term conditions: Commissioners should consider carefully the higher prevalence for epilepsy, severe mental illness, dementia, non-type 1 diabetes and asthma. Prevalence of depression is also high, at a similar level to those without LD.

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Further information
  • Adult autism strategy: statutory guidance (March 2015)
    This is statutory guidance for local authorities and NHS organisations to support implementation of the autism strategy.

  • 'Think Autism': an update to the government adult autism strategy (April 2015)
    This strategy sets out a programme of action the Department of Health and other government departments will take to improve lives of people with autism

  • Local Offer: What is the Local Offer?
    The Local Offer sets out what is available for your child in your area if they have special educational needs and or a disability.Visit the Local Offer Wirral website to find out more.

  • NICE approach to diagnosis and treatment of Autism (January 2014)
    NICE has produced a quality standard to help services address the current variation in diagnosis and treatment of autism.