Sheffield Liberal Democrats condemn ADHD services as “essentially non-existent”

25 Oct 2023
Cllr Sophie Thornton speaking in Sheffield City Council

Sheffield Liberal Democrats have demanded answers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) services in Sheffield, with one senior Councillor saying that services are “essentially non-existent”.

Sheffield Liberal Democrats have demanded answers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) services in Sheffield, with one senior Councillor saying that services are “essentially non-existent”. 
At a meeting of the Health Scrutiny Sub-Committee on Wednesday, Liberal Democrat councillors demanded that the Sheffield Adult Autism and Neurodivergent Service (SAANS) attend a future meeting to answer questions over its extremely low assessment rate. 
This demand comes after the Liberal Democrats found that only two clinicians were responsible for ADHD assessments and titration, with one working only one day a week.  
Due to this desperately short staffing, wait times for ADHD assessments are astronomical. Freedom of Information requests from Now Then magazine found that just 21 adults received an assessment from SAANS between June 2022 and June 2023, of which only 9 received a diagnosis. 5,481 people are currently on the waiting list for an initial assessment. 
SAANS states that their wait time for diagnostic assessment is five years, but at this rate of assessment, it would take 261 years to clear the current list. 
Inquiries by the Liberal Democrats have found that SAANS has been prioritising appointments for people requiring medication and treatment after they have already received a diagnosis. However, despite this prioritisation, the wait for treatment after a patient has received a diagnosis remains over a year, with SAANS saying that appointments are currently being booked for people referred in February 2022. 
The extraordinary wait times are leading to increasing numbers of patients seeking private treatment, a financially challenging option. The cost of a private diagnosis can be over £650, whereas the follow on medication appointments can cost over £150 each. 

Cllr Steve Ayris, Deputy Chair of the Health Scrutiny Sub-Committee, said:-
“I’m shocked by these findings on the ADHD service, and we have asked the Council’s Health Scrutiny Sub-Committee to call in the service to justify itself. By all accounts, SAANS is not providing value for public money, and is failing thousands of people in Sheffield.
People with ADHD experience high rates of anxiety, depression, and suicidality, face barriers to employment, and struggle in their social lives. By SAANS’ own numbers, someone coming to them for assessment today would be waiting a minimum of six and a half years to receive treatment – leaving them to suffer with their symptoms in the meantime.”

Cllr Sophie Thornton, Lib Dem spokesperson for Adult Health and Social Care, said:-
“These figures for ADHD assessment are a complete disgrace – for most people in Sheffield, NHS ADHD services are essentially non-existent. 
I waited for an ADHD assessment for a long time, and ended up going private for assessment and medication after struggling for years.  
I had to save up to get my treatment, and was lucky to have that option. With these appallingly low assessment rates, treatment for this disability is increasingly only possible for those who can afford it”. 

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