Children forced to wait five years for ADHD diagnosis

Families across Northern Ireland are having to wait up to five years to have their children diagnosed with ADHD. One mother has told UTV her son is being failed by the system as she fights to get him the support he desperately needs.

Eoghan enjoys learning to count in Irish.

The six year old already has an autism diagnoses - but his family believes his undiagnosed ADHD is holding him back.

His mum Claire Finnegan says: "He is just hyperactive, very impulsive, just hyper the whole day.

"He has no awareness of danger, when we take him out now he is actually not listening and running away and my fear is he is going to run out on to the road."

Despite Claire's struggle, getting a diagnosis for Eoghan could take years.

"We could be waiting six years, but because he already has a diagnosis of autism it could be three and a half years", she said.

Claire continued, "but before he is seen as urgent he has to be expelled suspended or on a reduced timetable from school."

The Finnegans are not alone.

It is believed there are around 1000 children on the waiting list in the Belfast Trust area alone, with the average wait being 5 years. Joan Henderson from the charity Solas says it is time to find more money for public services.

"There has to be an understanding that you have neglected these families you have neglected these people for too long.

"Don't be talking about cutbacks, find the money, you have got to put that money in place, you have got to put those services in place.

"Practical support is what families need, diagnosis is great but you still need to have that practical support, otherwise families will break down and children will be completely rejected going forward into their future careers."

Eoghan's family has already gone down the route of paying privately. but this could mean further medical bills for prescriptions.

This is an expense Claire does not think she should be paying for. She says: I've already paid for his autism diagnosis.

"The trust already let him down with that and now this coming back at me?

"I am taking pressure off the NHS by paying the £1200 plus I am going to have to pay for any reviews he has and then they want you to pay for any medication on top of that." In response to this a Department of Health spokesperson said: "It would not be usual or expected for a GP to prescribe a specialist amber drug at the request of a private provider in the absence of an agreed shared care arrangement, as in doing so they would be taking on all governance for the safe prescribing and monitoring of a specialist medication which may fall outside their usual scope of professional practice." Like many others, Eoghan's family is continuing to navigate a system, with the hope of an outcome that'll make life more manageable.

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