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Minister to order NHS Grampian to end ADHD treatment ban

NHS Grampian
NHS Grampian

The Scottish Government’s new Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey is poised to order NHS Grampian to end its controversial ban on treatment for adults with ADHD.

Ms Haughey, who is a former mental health nurse and succeeded Maureen Watt in the ministerial role last week, said she would set out “very clearly” to the health board’s bosses that she expected the issue to be resolved.

It follows the revelation in yesterday’s Press and Journal that NHS Grampian operates a “policy” of providing no assessment or treatment for adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) unless they were diagnosed as a child.

Labour MSP Daniel Johnson, who was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, demanded that Scottish ministers intervene and order an urgent investigation.

Responding, Ms Haughey said: “I expect all health boards to deliver the care and assessment that is needed by local people – and this includes the assessment and diagnosis of ADHD at any age.

“I will be setting out this expectation very clearly with the chair of NHS Grampian soon, and we will be working with them to ensure this situation is resolved.

“New Scottish guidance on the management of attention deficit and hyperkinetic disorders is currently being developed which will underpin these services in the future.”

ADHD is a behavioural disorder that includes symptoms such as inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness, and can be linked to additional problems, such as sleep and anxiety disorders.

It is often diagnosed in childhood, but between 30% and 50% of people continue to have symptoms in adulthood, and between 2% and 5% of adults are thought to have the condition.

Other health boards contacted by the Press and Journal yesterday confirmed they do not operate the same policy as NHS Grampian.

Mr Johnson branded the postcode lottery “shocking and unfair”, and claimed it was linked to a lack of psychiatric specialists, rather than being based on clinical need.

An NHS Grampian spokeswoman said that “we do keep our referral guidelines under regular review” and it was “committed to offering the highest quality service to all patients within the resources we have available”.

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