RCPsych acknowledges concerns raised in BBC Panorama's ADHD programme

Statement / comment
01 June 2023

The Royal College of Psychiatrists and its Neurodevelopmental Special Interest Group (SIG) have closely monitored the reaction to the recent Panorama documentary, which raised concerns about the standards of assessment and treatment of adult ADHD in certain services. We recognise the valuable contribution this documentary has made to highlighting the existing challenges in this field.

Firstly, it is essential to observe that the issues presented in the documentary do not encompass all services dealing with adult ADHD. There are many dedicated, knowledgeable professionals who strive to deliver high-quality care for people with ADHD. We appreciate their efforts, particularly under challenging circumstances, and stand by their commitment to uphold the best professional standards.

However, we acknowledge the real concerns that the documentary raises, particularly in relation to inconsistencies in the quality of services available. We recognise the distress and anxiety these issues can cause for individuals who need our services. It is an urgent reminder of the need for continuous learning, improvement, and standardisation of practices across all areas of adult ADHD diagnosis and management.

The College is deeply sympathetic to those individuals who, due to extended NHS waiting lists and underfunding, some of whom then will seek an assessment from the private sector. The provision of mental health services should be equitable, timely, and accessible. Unfortunately, the current pressures on the NHS can sometimes hinder these goals.

We see this documentary as a critical opportunity to advocate for more resources to be allocated to NHS mental health services, especially those dealing with neurodevelopmental disorders. Inadequate funding and long waiting lists are not only detrimental to patient care but also put undue strain on our dedicated professionals who are doing their best to provide effective services.

Lastly, we are fully committed to working collaboratively with service users, their families, and professionals to enhance the quality of adult ADHD services across the board. We will continue to promote research, share knowledge, encourage training, and champion policy changes that can drive improvements in the sector.

In the end, we all share a common goal – to provide the best possible care for those living with ADHD. This documentary, while highlighting shortcoming with some assessments, also illuminates the path forward, and for that, we are appreciative. The College is dedicated to making its contribution, in partnership with all stakeholders, towards improved standards and services in the diagnosis and treatment of adult ADHD.


The College has a resource concerning ADHD in adults, a new version of which will become available soon. A separate resource for parents and carers on ADHD and hyperkinetic disorder is also available.

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