Please note that our service will be closed on May 6th in observance of the bank holiday.

ADHD Direct – Our response to Panorama

ADHD Direct – Our response to Panorama

We express our outrage and disappointment at Panorama’s misrepresentation of our service. The programme’s conduct involved the infiltration of our service by an undercover reporter who feigned being a fictitious patient and occupied a valuable cancellation slot that a genuine patient could have taken advantage of. It is regrettable that rather than using the “documentary” to illuminate the considerable shortfall in service provision for individuals seeking ADHD support and treatment, Panorama resorted to dishonest tactics to create a 30-minute TV show. This is a desperate bid by a programme that is increasingly becoming irrelevant and struggling to maintain viewership, and which also has a track record of getting it badly wrong in their reporting of ADHD.

It is our belief that this programme will leave patients, who are already at the margins of an overburdened NHS, feeling bewildered and outraged. Had the focus of the programme been on the real issues resulting in people seeking private assessments, it could have illuminated the actual root causes. However, addressing these issues would have necessitated more than just 30 minutes.

The robustness of the reporter’s non-diagnosis by the NHS Consultant Psychiatrist, on which the whole programme is based, is open to question. We invited Panorama to disclose the information and answers the reporter gave to the NHS Consultant and to confirm if the Consultant was aware of the purpose for which any non-diagnosis would be used. Notably, Panorama refused to do so or to answer our question.

We therefore have concerns that the NHS Psychiatrist who conducted the assessment in question cannot be considered an “independent” evaluator. The fact that the psychiatrist’s conduct may have been guided by the programme makers raises questions regarding the validity of the evaluation and undermines its credibility as an impartial and objective assessment.

Furthermore, it is alarming to consider that an NHS Consultant Psychiatrist, currently sitting on a five-year waiting list, would have had the time to involve himself in an undercover television programme that seriously misrepresents our service. This revelation is both surprising and disturbing and raises legitimate questions about the consultant’s priorities and clinical obligations. It is our professional opinion that the purported 3 hours spent with the reporter would have been better spent with real patients who actually needed his time.

Panorama stated that the reporter’s assessment lasted 1 hour and 40 minutes. This is not true. His assessment was allocated 3 hours. 2 hours for the first appointment and 1 hour for his second appointment.

Panorama state that he was offered a prescription. This is not true. We discussed treatment options and whilst his potential treatment was identified, no prescription was issued as we had yet to follow the standard prescription review process, which would have been carried out following the second assessment appointment.

It is deeply concerning that Panorama has chosen to rely on the statement of a former employee who was terminated from their employment due to concerns about their conduct and performance. Despite being made aware of this fact prior to broadcasting, Panorama has disappointingly chosen to accept the claims of a disgruntled former employee with an axe to grind.  It is our view that this decision raises serious questions about the journalistic standards and integrity of Panorama’s reporting.

We wish to clarify that independent ADHD services are often a vital resource for thousands of people seeking support and treatment. All reputable services, including ADHD Direct, are regulated by NHS Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in England. Individuals come to ADHD Direct not only because we offer exceptional healthcare, but also because they are unwilling to wait for several years on an NHS waiting list.

Consequently, we have become a major service provider in the UK and most people who use our service have been referred by someone who has already had a positive experience with us. While we are not perfect, we are committed to learning and growing to become a service that continues to help our patients achieve their goals.

Like all regulated healthcare providers, we have a complaints process to protect our patients and ensure that we are held accountable. Over the past five years, HIS has upheld three complaints against ADHD Direct, none of which were related to misdiagnosis or poor clinical care.

All our clinical personnel come from the NHS, and most still work there part-time.

Only if, and when the NHS can provide neurodivergent patients with the level of service they need and deserve, then independent, regulated services like ADHD Direct will continue to play a crucial role in providing a lifeline to our patients.

Until the media, the wider public, and elements of our healthcare system acknowledge that ADHD is a genuine condition that affects people’s lives, patients will continue to feel marginalised and stigmatised for having the condition through no fault of their own. The NHS must prioritise the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of ADHD and work collaboratively with the independent sector if we are to offer support to those who need it most in a timely manner.

ADHD Direct is not the headline here; nor is our excellent clinical team, who have many positive testimonials. According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the estimated prevalence rate of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in adults in the UK is around 2-3%. Yet, a study conducted by the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey found that only around 0.5% of adults aged 18-64 in England had been diagnosed with ADHD. In Scotland, a study published in 2019 by NHS Health Scotland also found that the prevalence rate of adults with ADHD was 0.5%.

The real story here is what the NHS is doing to support a community of people seeking help but languishing on interminably long waiting lists.

We are proud to have helped many thousands of patients achieve results in life that they previously thought were unattainable.

Panorama’s poorly researched and poorly executed attack will not change who we are, whom we represent, or what we stand for.