Northern Ireland

Autism: Health Minister Simon Hamilton announces £2m boost

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Image caption More than 2,800 children and young people in Northern Ireland are currently awaiting assessment

Autism services in Northern Ireland are to get an extra £2m a year.

The money will be used to create 35 new posts across Northern Ireland in an effort to speed diagnosis and cut waiting lists.

Since 2010, the number of referrals for autism assessments has nearly doubled in five years from 1,500 to 2,800.

More than 2,800 children are currently waiting to be seen. Health Minister Simon Hamilton said it was "unacceptable".

He told Radio Ulster's Sunday News that the extra cash should help match pace with demand.

"The impact of the additional money should be felt very quickly," Mr Hamilton said.

"We are going to create about seven posts in each of the five health trusts across Northern Ireland to supplement the hardworking teams that are already there doing a great job and to give them much needed resources to be able to carry out the diagnoses."

Mr Hamilton said waiting lists resulted from "huge pressure" on the system.

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