The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is to develop health and social care quality standards for the care and wellbeing of adults and children with autism.
At the Government's request, NICE will begin to develop the standards, which will be based on accredited guidance, including NICE clinical guidelines and public health guidance.
NICE quality standards set out aspirational but achievable care through measurable statements and indicators and are highlighted as an important driver of quality improvement in the Health and Social Care Act.
This move is in response to the Care and Support White Paper, published earlier this year, which set out responsibilities for NICE to develop new standards and guidance to improve the level of social care in England.
Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, said: “We welcome these referrals, which mark the Government's commitment to NICE's new role of developing guidance and quality standards for the social care sector.
"It's important for health and social care services to work in tandem and the standards we develop will play a vital role in ensuring services are closely aligned to ensure effective, high quality patient care is consistently achieved.
"Having received these referrals, we can now start working with social care organisations and other experts to plan the scope of these standards.
"This will enable us to co-ordinate their development - and any necessary guidance on which these standards will need to be based - as quickly and efficiently as possible once our social care remit formally begins in April 2013."
Earl Howe, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Quality, added: "The Care and Support White Paper set out our plans to drive up the quality of care.
"NICE's new quality standards on social care will be a key driver of this. They will help define what good care and support looks like for commissioners and care providers as well as people using services."
Tom Madders, head of campaigns at The National Autistic Society, added that the standards will benefit the lives of thousands of people up and down the country.
“According to recent research 71% of children and 67% of adults with autism suffer from preventable mental health problems, often as a result of not having appropriate support in place,” he said. “It's therefore vital that people with autism receive adequate support to meet their individual needs – social care should never be viewed as ‘one-size fits all’.
"The new Quality Standards will mean health and social care professionals and commissioners will have clear guidance about how best to support people with autism, and should be instrumental in transforming lives.”