Fact: the World Health Organisation have criticised the UK for ignoring both national and international guidelines on responsible ADHD provision.
Who decides the minimum standards of acceptable healthcare provision in the UK?
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), was set up “…to reduce variation in the availability and quality of NHS treatment and care” .
The NICE guidelines exist to advise the government what the cheapest healthcare they’re allowed to provide is. NICE make it very clear that “commissioners and providers are reminded that it is their responsibility to implement the guidance, in their local context, in light of their duty to avoid unlawful discrimination and to have regard to promoting equality of opportunity.”
The intention is that British people, wherever they live, have equal access to a basic standard of NHS health care. The NICE guidelines ensure that we keep our health services up to scratch, and just as good as the health care available in equally developed countries. Services for adults with ADHD should be no different to all the other healthcare services that are supposed to be available to every adult in the UK who may need it.
What the guidelines say we should be doing:
NICE guidelines say that NHS commissioners (the CCGs) and NHS provider trusts (the local mental health trusts) should be delivering services that have “a person-centred, integrated approach” to ensure that they’re “delivering high quality care (to all) people with ADHD.”
…and what the UK currently offers:
- Even our own Department of Health (2008) have noted that there are “very few” specialist or generic mental health services in the NHS for adults with ADHD , despite evidence of effectiveness .
- Both national and international experts have described current services provision for adults with ADHD in the UK as “poor” , because the services that do exist are “relatively uncommon or greatly under-resourced”, resulting in “high levels of untreated disorder even when it is identified” .
- As a result, ADHD often goes unrecognised, misdiagnosed and undertreated  in the UK.
Across the UK, there are only a handful of places with specialist NHS services for adults with ADHD. This means that getting any support relies on you living in these areas.
Why haven’t people with ADHD just complained enough for things to get better? Why hadn’t I heard about this before now?
“Because adults with ADHD are disenfranchised and disengaged from the system in general. For example, their attentional problems and poor understanding of social conventions results in them avoiding ‘tedious’ tasks such as writing detailed application forms, completing them by missing out items and/or completing them without having read the question properly or reflecting on their answer” .
P.S: in case you’re looking for a list of adult ADHD services that you might be able to get a referral to, we made one here