Is a private diagnosis of ADHD as valid as a diagnosis confirmed within the NHS?

by | Jul 15, 2021 | Blog

The straight answer is YES.

A diagnosis of ADHD that has been confirmed by a healthcare professional is just as valid as it would be when seen within the NHS.

When you pay for private healthcare, this doesn’t mean that the healthcare professional has to bend the rules because you have paid for their services. The services you are paying for should still adhere to evidence-based practice in line with the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE).

You can view these guidelines here.

What this means in terms of a private ADHD assessment/diagnosis is, if the healthcare professional follows NICE guidelines and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders (DSM-5) criteria to confirm a diagnosis, it is equally as valid as a diagnosis confirmed by an NHS employee.

Having worked within an NHS adult ADHD service and built the foundations of my knowledge within the NHS, why would I then do my assessments any differently? I don’t.

My assessments are just as valid as they were whilst working within the NHS. The only thing I left behind was my badge, my colleagues and my desk…..I took my qualifications, training, experience, knowledge, skills and passion with me! Oh and my coffee mug, couldn’t leave that behind!

The only differences in my ways of working within the private sector is flexibility, giving patients more of my time and seeing patients sooner than 5 years down the line!

It is inevitable that you will come across sceptics when it comes to ADHD, I come across them all of the time, including some GP’s. The ADDitude mag recently posted a blog around how to respond to sceptics… “Is ADHD Real?” How to Silence Haters & Naysayers ( .

A big part of my job is to educate other professionals around ADHD and help them to better understand the disorder and reduce the stigma.

It’s also very baffling that a person who has very minimal if any training around ADHD can make an assumption that ADHD is not a valid diagnosis…….I mean, I have very minimal knowledge around diabetes, does that allow me the right to dispute it as a diagnosis? Ummmm…

ADHD has been talked about and recognised (albeit only in children) as far back as the 18th century. I think by now, with the advances of science someone would have scientifically proven it doesn’t exist.

They have found quite the opposite of this in fact with multiple studies, including neuroimaging (MRI) studies showing the differences in brain matter in a person with ADHD Brain MRIs Can Identify ADHD and Distinguish Among Subtypes (…….So MRI’s are making it up to??

Gone off track slightly with the answer to the question (this happens a lot!)

There are multiple criteria’s to be met before a diagnosis of ADHD can be confirmed. The assessment should only be carried out by a healthcare professional that is a specialist within ADHD. Just being a healthcare professional doesn’t equip that person with the skills, knowledge, experience and training in diagnosing or treating ADHD. This also stands for GP’s, consultant psychiatrists, regardless of the hierarchy of healthcare professionals. When it comes to specialist areas of practice its irrelevant of where you are in the pecking order of ‘who knows best’. It comes down to the skills, knowledge, experience and training they have that defines them as a ‘specialist’.

If a diagnosis is confirmed by a healthcare professional in the private sector, they should communicate this with your GP with a comprehensive diagnostic report. In this report should be evidence of how this diagnosis has been concluded and how the diagnostic criteria has been met. This should be more than just a 1-page letter and usually range from at least 5 pages to sometimes 30! (Mind you, that’s probably a bit excessive but I’ve seen one that lengthy before!)

It is the healthcare professionals’ job to communicate your diagnosis with your GP and keep them well informed of any treatment plans and progress. If they fail to do this, your GP is obviously going to feel slightly reluctant to take on your treatment plan without sufficient information for them to refer to. They are taking on the responsibility of prescribing your treatment, a treatment that they do not specialise in so this is completely understandable.

Your GP cannot retract the diagnosis, this doesn’t mean they have to agree with the diagnosis but that’s their own personal bias’s that should not influence their professional opinions.

I am equipped for these scenarios, it comes hand in hand with my job, not only in private healthcare but also whilst working within the NHS. Differences in clinical opinions happen all of the time. The most important thing is, if I can evidence the high standard of my work and justify my clinical decision making then that’s all that matters.

My approach is to work with other healthcare professionals not against each other. We all have our areas of expertise…..Mine is assessing, diagnosing and treating ADHD 😊