Private Diagnosis for Adult ADHD
Step 2: Choose your Private ADHD Assessment provider.
ADHD can only be formally assessed by a UK registered psychiatrist, a specialist ADHD nurse, or “other approriately qualified healthcare professional” [Nice Guidelines].
- A Psychiatrist is a medically qualified doctor who has specialised in psychiatry.
- A specialist ADHD nurse is a qualified nurse with additional formal training and accreditation in ADHD. Specialist ADHD nurses undertake an additional 1 year program to be qualified in assessing for ADHD. The can undertake a further 1 year program to become qualified to prescribe ADHD medication.
- “other appropriately qualified healthcare professional with training and expertise in the diagnosis of ADHD” includes Psychologists. Pychologists can provide an assessment of ADHD; however, they are not able to prescribe ADHD medication.
Other mental health professionals, including counsellors, cannot provide a formally recognised diagnosis of ADHD. (Note: For children a Pediatrician may also be able to diagnosis ADHD] You need a formally recognised diagnosis to access workplace protections. You need Psychiatrist or prescription qualified specialist nurse to have medication as a treatment option.
You should always check that the person you are seeing is a member of the General Medical Council and on their specialist register, You can check their register here. If you have any questions on their record call the assessment company and check their credentials.
At ADHD UK we are looking for ways to provide a rated list of private providers. It is something we are actively working on but unfortunately we do not have anything we can share it this time. If you would like to be first to know when we do launch that please join our mailing list.
Private assessment providers each have their own policy on requiring a GP referral letter – some need one, some do not. We recommend you check with your chosen provider before booking.
Note: If you are looking for a “Shared Care Agreement” [see below] following an assessment it may be worth speaking to your GP prior to your private assessment.
Step 3 – Assessment
Have a specialist assessment with the NHS. This should cover your overall mental health, an assessment of if you have ADHD, and an assessment if you might have any other related or unrelated mental health conditions. This usually, but not always, involves a 45 to 90 minute discussion with a psychiatrist. They may go through a number of check lists.
To help ensure you say everything you feel important we recommend you write down: the reasons why you think you have ADHD, any other mental health concerns you have, your mental health history, and any family mental health issues you are aware of.
Following your assessment your clinician will let you know what the next stage is. One option is a diagnosis of ADHD, with a discussion on whether you want to consider medication options, and a plan for treatment and follow up.
Step 4 – Continued Private Care or returning to NHS care.
Following diagnosis you need to have an ongoing care plan. That generally falls into three options: continued private care from your diagnostic provider, shared care between your provider and your GP (your GP can be private or NHS), or discharged to your GP. You need to discuss these options with your psychiatrist.
Option 4a – Continued Private Care
All follow up appointments and (if applicable) prescriptions are done by your private provider. The positive of this approach should be seamless care. The downside are the ongoing expenses of follow up appointments and private prescription and medication charges.
Option 4b – Shared Care
Care and treatment management is shared between your Psychiatrist and your GP. The exact plan varies but generally it means if you have prescriptions they are generally renewed by your GP and your Psychiatrist provides follow up appointments to discuss how you are doing and your overall treatment plan. If you move to an NHS GP, and have a medication plan, then costs should be limited to your NHS prescription charge rate and you will no longer need to pay the direct pharmacy cost of the medication.
Option 4c – Discharged to GP
Here you are discharged to your GP. You will likely be able to return to your Psychiatrist should you wish or your needs change; however, by discharging you to your GP they are saying it isn’t a requirement for you to see them.
The exact plan varies but generally it means if you have prescriptions they are renewed by your GP, and your ongoing treatment plan will be decided between you and your GP. Your GP may also opt to refer you back to the Psychiatrist on an as-needed basis. If you move to an NHS GP, and have a medication plan, then costs should be limited to your NHS prescription charge rate and you will no longer need to pay the direct pharmacy cost of the medication.
NHS GP Shared Care / Discharged to NHS GP
We strongly believe that a private ADHD assessment by a GMC registered psychiatrist has comparable validity to an NHS ADHD Assessment and should be treated by a GP equally.
We know that many NHS GPs are happy to recognise private assessments; however, we are also aware of some that are not. GPs do have discretion in this area. If your GP is not sure we recommend the following compromise: they refer you on the NHS pathway and while you are waiting they take on shared care or discharged care. That way you can continue treatment and they know the situation isn’t permanent and will revert to the NHS norm in due course.
Step 5 – Next
Being diagnosed is the first step in helping yourself with ADHD and may unravel complex emotions. Many report that a diagnosis can both be a relief to know what has been challenging them but as well they feel upset to know that they have a mental health condition. It is important to remember that nothing has changed because of a diagnosis – except that you are now empowered with the knowledge of it. What you now do with that insight into yourself is then up to you.
We recommend you learn about ADHD, learn and look out for its nuances for you. To help you do that we provide support groups and recommend you join our newsletter. Above all we’re here to help.