Getting an ADHD Diagnosis in the UK

13 Mar 2023




minute read

Last Updated

Sep 8, 2023

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. It affects over 5% of the UK population but everyone experiences ADHD slightly differently.

This article will look at why someone might want to get a diagnosis and how they would go about getting one. You can also look at Noetic’s Guide to Adult ADHD Diagnosis for a more in-depth explanation of the diagnosis process.

Why would someone want an ADHD diagnosis ❓

There are different reasons why a diagnosis (either positive or negative for ADHD) may be useful to someone. The diagnosis process can be a significant undertaking, so it is important first to honestly assess the personal rationale for getting a diagnosis. Getting a diagnosis can help you understand yourself better and access the interventions and support that will benefit you.

Before seeking a diagnosis

Understanding your traits, as well as those associated with ADHD, can help you decide whether or not to seek a diagnosis. It can also prepare you to communicate effectively with your GP. Think about taking these steps to do this before seeking a diagnosis:

1️⃣ Explore whether you have traits that fit the profile of ADHD by learning more about ADHD and completing the ASRS (an ADHD screener).

2️⃣ Reflect on your own experiences and find examples of when you may or may not have fit the traits and symptoms of ADHD and how it might have impacted your daily life.

3️⃣ If you feel comfortable, speak to people who know you (e.g. family members, friends, colleagues and teachers) to also get opinions that can help you build a picture of your symptoms

Once you've completed these steps, if you still believe your profile fits with ADHD traits and you’d like to proceed to get a clinical diagnosis, you can explore the different routes to getting diagnosed.

Diagnosis process

Consult your GP 👩‍⚕️

  • Start by making an appointment with your GP.

  • Bring a collection of observations, or a diary, to show your GP why you think you might have ADHD and how it impacts your life.

  • If you and your GP agree to proceed with a psychiatric diagnosis, your GP will help you with a referral to a specialist.

Note: Not everyone understands and appreciates ADHD in the same way, which also applies to GPs. If your GP declines to refer you, then you can always seek a second opinion from another GP. While you don’t have a legal right to a second opinion, it’s rarely refused.

Assessment 📝

  • Your assessment will be carried out by either a psychiatrist, a specialised ADHD nurse, or another healthcare professional with specialist training in ADHD.

  • Your assessment may vary slightly depending on the provider assessing you. You can ask beforehand what the assessment will entail.

  • You may be asked to fill in forms relating to your symptoms and be asked questions relating to your symptoms and history of ADHD.

  • The assessor may also want to speak to someone close to you to ensure they have a good picture of your traits.

  • They may also try to rule out any other possible causes for your symptoms

Diagnosis 🩺

  • Based on the results of the assessment, the specialist will decide whether to make a diagnosis.

  • You should discuss your ongoing care plan with the specialist, which can involve being under the care of a specialist mental health centre, your GP, or a combination of the two.

Diagnosis route options

NHS 🏥 

If you are successful with getting your GP to refer you to get a diagnosis, ask how long the waiting time is and what the process looks like. If you think the waiting list is too long, you have the right to choose alternative providers other than the local one recommended by the GP. Learn more about your right to choose in Noetic’s Guide to Adult ADHD Diagnosis.

Private 👩‍⚕️

If you want to get diagnosed privately, then you can seek a private practice that can diagnose you. Private diagnoses are often opted by individuals who don’t want to wait that long to get a diagnosis or who cannot get a diagnosis through the NHS route because their GP refuses to refer them to get a diagnosis.

Private clinics offer a range of options for diagnosis, assessment and support, This can range from an online one-hour assessment to a comprehensive assessment with a report and treatment plan, so it is important to understand what your clinic is offering you. The cost can range from £360 up to £2000+. There may be additional costs for follow-up meetings and treatment. You will have to pay for a private diagnosis. If you have private health insurance, some providers will pay for your diagnosis. It is best to contact them directly to ask.

There are many private providers of ADHD diagnoses. Some examples include:

1️⃣ ADHD 360

2️⃣ Psymplicity

3️⃣ ADHD centre

4️⃣ Psychiatry UK

If you want to learn more about what to expect during an ADHD assessment, or if you are wondering whether to seek a diagnosis, have a look at Noetic’s Guide to Adult ADHD Assessment or talk to one of Noetic’s experts.