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Monday, May 16, 2022

Lack of dedicated adult ADHD services leaving many struggling – Sugden

East Londonderry MLA Claire Sugden has said the absence of a dedicated service for adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is leaving many sufferers struggling with their lives and work.

Ms Sugden said the options for adults who had not been diagnosed while at school were seriously limited, unlike in England where the Right to Choose system enables adults to get diagnoses and treatment from the provider of their choice.

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“Adults with suspected ADHD are really falling between the cracks of the support currently available,” Ms Sugden said. “A child is able to get a referral, diagnosis and treatment while at school – albeit within a system that needs improvement itself, with nearly 2,600 children waiting for an assessment. But if they leave school prior to diagnosis they are somewhat left in the wilderness.

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“ADHD can have a big impact on people’s ability to work and simply live their lives fully – especially if it is undiagnosed and therefore untreated.

“I have asked the Minister of Health about the provision of support and treatment for adults with ADHD and I remain convinced there needs to be dedicated services for this.

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“Currently, adult treatment falls under the remit of Mental Health Services, where, the Minister said, adults could receive treatment for functional symptoms such as anxiety, depression or cognitive issues.

“This, however, leaves these patients without a holistic and dedicated support system and places even more pressure on an already overstretched mental health service.”

Ms Sugden has subsequently questioned Minister of Health Robin Swann further on plans he has to adopt a system similar to the Right to Choose programme in England.

“People need to have confidence that if they suspect they have ADHD they will be able to get the treatment and support they need, regardless of their age,” Ms Sugden continued.

“Under the Right to Choose system a person is able to choose the practitioner they prefer once their GP agrees referral to a specialist is needed and as long as that practitioner is currently providing treatment somewhere else in the country.

“While it is possible it may not be perfectly designed for the needs of people in Northern Ireland as it exists now, the basic concept and framework should be looked at as a way of helping people find the right support when they need it.”

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