National Programme —

Focus ADHD

Working with mental health trusts and community paediatric services to improve the assessment process for ADHD and understand pathway innovation needs.

Two young children sit at a table drawing with pencils

Increasing availability of objective assessments for children suspected of having ADHD where a need is identified 

Reducing waiting times and unnecessary appointments before ADHD diagnosis  

Improving patients’, carers’ and clinicians’ experiences around diagnosis and throughout the pathway 

Detailed Programme Information

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurobiological condition affecting 5% of school aged children. 

Whilst ADHD can be managed and treated, the condition can have a significant impact on personal development, academic outcomes and family interaction if untreated. Diagnosis is often subjective, and lengthy, (on average 18 months), and costly to the NHS. 

Using an approved computer-supported objective assessment tool (QbTest) to measure attention, impulsivity and motor activity – the core symptoms of ADHD – can support a subjective assessment. 

The results are instantly analysed and presented in a report which compares a patients’ results against a normative dataset based on age and gender. ADHD practitioners then use information from the QbTest report alongside their clinical assessment to inform their decision whether the young person has ADHD or not. Together this leads to faster diagnoses, and a better experience for patients, carers and clinicians.  

Between 2020 and 2023, the AHSN Network rolled out a three-year Focus ADHD programme by region, working closely with local trusts and stakeholders to explore benefits and map service need for pathway integration. The programme closed on 31 March 2023. 

Almost 75,000 people (aged 6-18 years) received an objective assessment for ADHD since Academic Health Science Networks began to support QbTest in 2017.

A recent evaluation study by the Institute of Mental Health, Nottingham has shown the impact of using QbTest as part of an improved ADHD assessment pathway.

QbTest can supply important data to help inform a clinician’s diagnosis. To date, it is being used in 65 trusts across 131 sites – over half of the NHS providers of ADHD assessments for this age group.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has developed a medtech innovation briefing (MIB) on QbTest for the assessment of ADHD

The briefing provides information including;
• a description of the QbTest technology
• how the technology is used
• the potential role in the treatment pathway
• a review of relevant published evidence
• the likely costs of using the technology.

The information provided is designed to support NHS and social care commissioners and staff who are considering using, or continuing to use QbTest. 

To find out more about the programme visit the East Midlands AHSN Focus ADHD webpage. Watch this video to see how it has impacted one family’s life.

For more information about Focus ADHD in the South West, please contact South West AHSN Programme Director, Steve Johnson-Wood.

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