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NICE is currently in the early stages of updating the clinical guidelines on the diagnosis and management of epilepsies in adults, and plan to go out to consultation on a draft scope in October this year.
The UK’s autism research charity Autistica advises that up to 40% of people with epilepsies are, in fact, autistic, and that epileptic seizures are the leading cause of early death for autistic people with a learning disability. NICE guidance has never mentioned autism when referring to epilepsy, and autistic people have distinctive types of epilepsies that require different clinical approaches. Will the Minister please ensure that NICE includes autism in the guidelines on epilepsy?
At this stage, it is too early in the update process for NICE to say exactly what its guidance will cover. However, my right hon. Friend is chair of the all-party group on autism and vice-chair of the all-party group on epilepsy, and she was the driving force behind the Autism Act 2009. I think that NICE would do very well to heed her advice.
And that advice will be proffered on a very large number of occasions in this Chamber until Dame Cheryl Gillan gets what she seeks—I think I can say that with not just confidence, but certainty.