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NHS faces ‘avalanche’ of demand for autism and ADHD services, thinktank warns

The NHS is experiencing an “avalanche of need” over autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but the system in place to cope with surging demand for assessments and treatments is “obsolete”, a health thinktank has warned.

There must be a “radical rethink” of how people with the conditions are cared for in England if the health service is to meet the rapidly expanding need for services, according to the Nuffield Trust.

The thinktank is calling for a “whole-system approach” across education, society and the NHS, amid changing social attitudes and better awareness of the conditions. It comes days after the NHS announced a major review of ADHD services.

Thea Stein, the chief executive of the Nuffield Trust, said: “The extraordinary, unpredicted and unprecedented rise in demand for autism assessments and ADHD treatments have completely overtaken the NHS’s capacity to meet them. It is frankly impossible to imagine how the system can grow fast enough to fulfil this demand.

“We shouldn’t underestimate what this means for children in particular: many schools expect an assessment and formal diagnosis to access support – and children and their families suffer while they wait.”

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Source: The Guardian, 4 April 2024


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