ADHD care in Jersey a 'complete shambles' as adults wait three years to be diagnosed

  • ITV Channel reporter Alex Spiceley takes a closer look at the figures and speaks to some of those affected by the long wait for an ADHD assessment

Some adults in Jersey are waiting three years for an ADHD assessment, with more than 700 now on the list for an appointment.

The backlog could worsen as around 140 young people are currently being looked after by the island's Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and will eventually need to be moved into the adult service.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD can affect someone's behaviour in different ways, such as making it difficult to focus, follow instructions and cope with stress.

Jersey's Director of Mental Health, Andy Weir, says the long wait is down to a rise in demand without the number of staff to meet it.

One specialist consultant psychiatrist is currently doing all of the assessments and repeat prescriptions.

He explained: "It's not fair, it's not OK for people to be waiting such a long time for a diagnostic assessment.

"We've seen a significant increase in referrals and activity over the last couple of years. We've not had the associated growth of the service, particularly because we've not been able to achieve the staff to get with specialist skills and expertise in this area.

"At the moment, if you were added today, it's three years based upon the number of assessments that we do each month."

Repeat prescriptions compound the problem as they have to be signed off by a specialist in Jersey, unlike in the UK where a GP can issue them.

This means the on-island specialist psychiatrist is prescribing for 220 people every four weeks which takes up most of their time - something the department wants to change.

Mr Weir added: "We've looked at non-medical prescribing so that we could have someone who isn't a psychiatrist but is a specialist in mental health doing the prescribing, but we've not managed to find anyone who's able to or wanting to do that at the moment."

To tackle the backlog, he admits the department has discussed the idea of closing the waiting list for new adult referrals, except in emergency cases.

Mr Weir explained: "I think we have to think about if people are being referred to a service where they're not being seen for potentially three years, is that fair? Is that reasonable? But there isn't an alternative here and we have an unmet need."

Rachel Tippett, founder of ADHD Jersey, says she warned the government to expect a rise in potential referrals two years ago. Credit: ITV Channel

This news comes as no surprise to Rachel Tippett, the founder of ADHD Jersey, a not for profit organisation.

She says she warned the government two years ago that referrals were going to increase: "At the time, the expression I used was 'let's shut the gate before the horse bolts', but now the horse has already bolted.

"There are problems with the ADHD diagnosis, there are problems with prescriptions, there are problems with getting the medication. There is no after support, it's just a complete shambles.

"ADHD is 80% hereditary. It's really good how much work CAMHS is doing but we need to realise that when you have something that is so highly hereditary, the adults also need to be looked after because these are the adults who are parenting our children with ADHD."

Nina's son was diagnosed with ADHD just before he turned six-years-old, but it took nearly four years to get that assessment. Credit: ITV Channel

Children are also facing a long wait for an ADHD assessment.

Nina Lodwick-Campbell's youngest son was diagnosed with the condition in September 2023 but admits the four-year journey has been tough on the entire family: "I knew my child was different at 18 months and we got the diagnosis just weeks before he turned six years old.

"I don't know how I got through those four years. It was crises on a daily basis.

"There are still people who think it's just behaviour. My child would climb onto the car or climb buildings.

"It's not just down to parenting, it's not just down to styles of parenting. Their brain works differently and we need to be able to help them. We don't all fit in the same square."

Three days after receiving the diagnosis, Nina's son went from receiving 15 minutes of one-on-one support in school to 90 minutes each morning.

Speaking about the waiting list, she added: "Those families are in limbo and even when you get the diagnosis it's only the first stage of working through what's best for you, your family and your child."