[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 12 July 2007, 23:01 GMT 00:01 UK
Adult hyperactivity care 'fails'
By Adam Brimelow
Health Correspondent, BBC News

Ritalin
Ritalin is a mild stimulant used to treat ADHD
The NHS is failing people with adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, psychiatrists have said.

There are only a few clinics across the UK that treat the condition - also known as ADHD - which affects up to 4% of adults.

Symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder include inattention and impulsiveness.

Leading psychiatrists have called on the government to give the condition a higher priority.

You move job constantly all the time, you think nothing of moving house to house, you can't settle and have stable relationships, your relationships with your family are on tenterhooks all the time because of how you are
Amanda Christie
ADHD sufferer

It is only in the last few years that strong evidence has emerged about the extent of ADHD in the adult population.

It is thought up to 8% of children may be affected, and research suggests that half or more may have symptoms past adolescence into their twenties, thirties or even forties.

Yet the condition is barely recognised by the health service beyond 18 years of age.

Professor Anthony Hale, professor of psychiatry at the University of Kent, said patients are being failed by the system.

"There are huge numbers of people across the country who are on waiting lists to see adult psychiatrists who don't have the expertise to deal with them.

"The 4% of the adult population figure is very real.

"There are only a handful of clinics and specialists at the moment across the country who are doing it.

"And the rest of them are getting random allocation of care to all the different existing bits of the service that aren't really suitable".

Effective treatment

One of the frustrations for experts in this field is that treatment, which costs about 60 a month, is invariably very effective.

At first sight, Amanda Christie seems an unlikely ADHD patient.

She is a confident professional woman, fresh out of university and looking forward to a career in legal research.

But much of her life has been blighted by the condition, which made her chaotic, impulsive and reckless.

As a child she ended up in care, and her unsettled life carried on into adulthood.

"You drive fast, you listen to loud music, you move job constantly all the time, you think nothing of moving house to house, you can't settle and have stable relationships, your relationships with your family are on tenterhooks all the time because of how you are."

But Ms Christie was diagnosed with adult ADHD a couple of years ago, and started treatment at a clinic in Canterbury.

"I'm a lot calmer than I was, more rational, I can think about things, rather than going and doing something instinctively I sit back and do what most adults do and think about the long-term consequences of doing that."

Some people without the medicine are prone to offending behaviour, and prone to aggression
Dr Marios Adamou, psychiatrist

Ms Christie's psychiatrist, Dr Marios Adamou, whose clinic is due to close in October due to lack of funding, said poor access to treatment is a real problem.

"For some people it may mean catastrophe, because some people without the medicine are prone to offending behaviour, and prone to aggression.

"So a few people may end up being arrested, being imprisoned.

"Others may fail in their courses, others may fail in their occupation."

Dr Adamou says Britain is years behind most other European countries in dealing with this problem.

Most of the medication is licensed for use only in children, and many of the treatments are controlled drugs, so GPs - and many adult psychiatrists - are often reluctant to prescribe them.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "Having been long regarded as a childhood mental health problem, ADHD is increasingly being recognised as a potential problem in adults.

"We are working with the Royal College of Psychiatrists to strengthen training for general psychiatrists in the diagnosis and treatment of adult ADHD."




SEE ALSO
Suicide warning over ADHD drug
29 Sep 05 |  Health
Ritalin rise leads to ADHD probe
20 Dec 04 |  Scotland
New ADHD drug launched in UK
17 Jul 07 |  Health

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific