A LEADING county councillor has apologised to families of children with additional needs who have been waiting for a year for assessments.

Parents using the Child Assessment and Development Unit based in Colchester received a letter from Essex County Council which said commissioning of the service has been put on hold whilst a review is carried out to determine its future.

The service helps diagnose and sup port children with learning disabilities.

The service was redesigned last year and it became uncertain as to who would pay for it.

Essex County Council has been in talks with the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group to find a solution.

Rachael Evans, from Wivenhoe, said her son Teddie has been on the waiting list for assessment for a year.

Teddie, who is four, started showing symptoms of autism when he was two.

Rachel said: “We raised concerns with the health visitor as he wasn’t communicating. He had speech and language meetings but never any active work.

“A paediatrician said he would need to go to the CADU for an autism assessment, that was in November last year.”

She has not received any professional help since.

She said: “We expected a wait of about nine months but I call up every week.

Teddie is non-verbal and shows his emotions by pointing to pictures.

Rachel said: “It’s really difficult not knowing. We struggle to apply for funding for help as we don’t have a diagnosis.”

Councillor Julie Young (Lab) has been fighting for a resolution.

She said: “During this row there is about 150 children who are waiting for crucial assessments to determine where their difficulties are.

“It’s unacceptable, these children need all the support they can get.”

Dick Madden, Essex county councillor responsible for children and families, apologised to families and said a way ahead had now been found.

He said: “The county council and the CCG have agreed to ensure funding is in place until the end of the 2017/18 financial year.

“We are working on the finer points of this, but envisage the service will be provided by Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust and Virgin Care, and will enable us to continue to work together with partners to establish a long-term solution.”

He said moving forward there will be an independent review as well as input from families to help shape the future pathway for autism diagnosis.

He said: “We will be in contact with families on the waiting list for the CADU service to apologise for the pause in the service and update them.”