Senate probe into ADHD under way

Jolyon Attwooll

12/04/2023 4:18:59 PM

The inquiry is considering diagnosis and support for people with ADHD, with most GPs reporting a large increase in referral requests.

Frustrated school student
There has been an increase in presentations for ADHD diagnosis referrals over the past year.

A new Senate Inquiry will consider the barriers patients face when seeking treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in Australia, with GPs reporting a substantial spike in the number of patients presenting for a referral for diagnosis.
Public submissions are now open for the Assessment and Support Services for People with ADHD Inquiry, which is being held by the Senate’s Community Affairs References Committee.
Federal Senator Jordon Steele-John has led a push for it to be held, after he earlier called for public feedback into the barriers to diagnosis and support.
Its confirmation also followed a newsGP poll which indicated a substantial increase in ADHD-related presentations.
More than nine in 10 readers reported seeing an increase in presentations for ADHD diagnosis referrals over the past year, according to the results of the survey held last month.
Of the 1453 respondents, 78% said they have seen a substantial increase in the number of patient inquiries about referrals for ADHD diagnosis, with 16% saying there has been a small increase.
No one reported a decrease in the number of referral requests.
The terms of reference for the Senate Inquiry are wide-ranging, including the adequacy of access to diagnosis, as well as support following diagnosis.
Senators will consider evidence on international best practice, as well as practitioner education and cost.
Access to medication, treatment cost, the potential for gender bias, and the role of the NDIS in supporting people with ADHD, will also form part of the Inquiry’s remit.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), ADHD is the most common mental disorder among children, with boys more likely to be diagnosed than girls.
In recent years, the potential for ADHD to affect adults has been much more widely highlighted.
The Senate Inquiry will also consider the viability of recommendations put forward by the Australian ADHD Professionals Association (AADPA), according to its terms of reference.
New evidence-based clinical guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD were published by AADPA last year.
In its submission to AADPA for those guidelines, the RACGP highlighted several key areas relating to general practice.
‘In addition to evidence-based guidance, there is a need for GPs to be able to access appropriate education and training,’ the college submission stated.
‘Regulatory barriers also need to be addressed as there are limitations in different states and territories regarding stimulant prescribing.
‘Shared care arrangements should also be supported, in the form of clinical protocols and funding systems, so GPs can access timely assistance from paediatricians and psychiatrists to support diagnosis and management, and mitigate risk of both over and under treatment.’
The RACGP submission also drew attention to ‘poor’ access to diagnosis and treatment among prison populations.
The Senate Inquiry is due to report by 27 September this year. Submissions are open until 9 June.
Full details on the Senate Inquiry are available on the Parliament of Australia website.
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Dr Talitha Barrett   20/04/2023 8:54:52 PM

Screening tools are a great help , as are PHN pathways. Whilst there is underdiagnosis. I think we are seeing significant overdiagnosis too and the pendulum will swing back.