Improving diagnosis of ADHD

Around five per cent (one in 20) of school-aged children are affected by ADHD, a neurobiological disorder of brain development that impacts on behaviour. ADHD is a treatable disorder yet if left untreated, can have a significant impact on personal development, academic outcomes and family interaction.

The AHSN Network is working with NHS trusts across England to improve the ADHD assessment offer to children and young people by implementing an objective assessment tool (measuring attention, impulsivity and activity) to supplement current clinical assessment processes.

Currently, children in the UK wait an average of 18 months to obtain an accurate diagnosis, compared with the European average of 11 months. Diagnosis involves multiple clinic and school visits over this period, resulting in significant costs to the NHS, estimated at £23 million. Research has shown that the use of objective assessment tools alongside other clinical information, can provide a more rapid diagnosis (with reductions of around five months). Evidence-based outcomes include:

  • Reduction in time for assessment and decision making (from first referral to decision to diagnose/rule out)
  • Reduction in number of outpatient appointments between referral and diagnosis
  • Reduction in nurse observation visits in schools
  • Improved patient / family satisfaction / experience
  • Improved clinician satisfaction and confidence in diagnosing or excluding ADHD.

Our Mental Health team is introducing the ADHD objective assessment test, QbTest, to trusts and providers across south London, working with colleagues to consider whether an objective assessment test can support improvements in the assessment pathway.

For more information about the AHSN network National ADHD Programme click here.

In November 2021, the Health Innovation Network collaborated with UCLP and ICHP to deliver a London wide webinar – ADHD: Reducing time to diagnosis for children and young people – sharing the experiences of using QBTest.

We heard National Clinical Lead for Focus ADHD, Dr Julie Clarke, and the HIN’s Deputy Clinical Director for Mental Health, Dr Nicola Reynolds, share their experiences of implementing and using QBTest in practice as well as a young man and mother discuss their perspective of going through the assessment process.

Missed the session? you can check out the slidedeck here or watch it back here.

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To find out more contact Ellie Wharton, Project Manager.

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