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December 15th 2012

ADHD Services over Scotland final report published

Healthcare Improvement Scotland have just published their final report on ADHD Services across the country. Their news story is published below with permission. Healthcare Improvement Scotland is a health body formed on the 1 April 2011. It was created by the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 and marks a change in the way the quality of healthcare across Scotland is supported nationally.

Over the last eight years, a concerted effort has been made by Healthcare Improvement Scotland – and our predecessor organisation NHS Quality Improvement Scotland – to understand how services for children and young people with ADHD are operating in Scotland and whether they meet the needs of those with the condition. This work culminates in new report – ‘Services Over Scotland’ – that completes this body of work.

The report identifies that ADHD services in Scotland are continuing to improve and there have been developments within all NHS boards since we started this programme of work. However, there is still work to be done.

ADHD is one of the most commonly diagnosed behavioural disorders in children and young people. For this report, we revisited every NHS board to review progress against the recommendations made in our implementation review report of 2008. We continue to find that the diagnostic rate for ADHD in school-aged children falls far short of what we would expect. The data we collected on diagnostic rates shows that services are still being accessed by only a minority of the children and young people who have ADHD. Studies indicate that worldwide prevalence rates for ADHD are about 5% of school age children. In Scotland, this means around 37,000 children and young people may be affected and need access to support and services. However, NHS boards have told us that services are already stretched when assessing and managing current numbers, and would struggle if demand increased.

The adult agenda

There is also an emerging awareness of the continuation of ADHD difficulties into adulthood. It is estimated that up to two thirds of children and young people affected by hyperactivity will continue to experience problems. While all NHS boards provide continuing care, only one has a longer term strategy in place to develop dedicated services for adults with ADHD. We also found that most children and young people are being assessed, treated, monitored and followed up appropriately, and that the care and treatment provided by specialist services is good.

The requirement for services for adults is also growing. Our work has shown that while all NHS boards provide some form of continuing care for those diagnosed with ADHD in childhood, most have not yet developed a strategy to manage the demand for ADHD assessment and treatment in adults with no previous diagnosis.

Looking ahead

There is no doubt that the provision of care for ADHD in Scotland is changing for the better, but there is still some way to go to make sure that all children, young people and adults with ADHD can easily access the support and services that they need. However, we are not starting from scratch. We already know how many children and young people are accessing services in Scotland, and from epidemiological data, how many more might need to. Better ways to identify those children, young people and families that are ‘suffering in silence’ and provide a service for them need to be addressed.

For the full report, click here

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