I don’t have ADHD, but three private clinics say I do

This report by Rory Carson concerns undercover work that he conducted for the BBC’s Panorama team, which specialises in investigative journalism. It begins:

A leading NHS consultant psychiatrist has met me in person and concluded I don’t have ADHD – attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Yet, after shorter assessments online, three private clinics have told me I do – and offered me powerful medication.

‘You fit the criteria for ADHD very well. You’ll have it in writing, officially that you have been diagnosed. There is no expiration date for this. You were diagnosed for life,’ says the psychologist through the computer screen, as I sit at my kitchen table.

I am working undercover, using my middle name James, to investigate private clinics that can offer ADHD assessments at a time when NHS waiting times have risen, in some areas, to more than five years.

The assessment over Zoom, with a clinic called Harley Psychiatrists, costs £685 and takes 45 minutes. As my assessor asks her quick-fire questions, she appears to be slouched on a sofa wearing a tracksuit top.

‘Did I have problems concentrating at school?’

I try my best to answer but the screen keeps wobbling as she struggles to get comfortable. The whole time she plays with her hair and I get the sense she isn’t focusing completely.

At the end, she diagnoses me with ADHD – a lifelong condition. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder, with symptoms falling into two categories – inattentiveness, plus hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

Stunned, all I can say back to my assessor is: ‘It’s a lot to take in.’ …”

You can read more – and/or watch the associated Panorama TV programme on the BBC’s iPlayer – from here.

1/5 - (2 votes)

1 Comment

  1. Sharon Lewendon

    As a mental health practitioner I thought her conduct was appalling and extremely dismissive. What sort of impression does that give to clients!


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