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08 November 2023

Report recommends greater role for GPs in ADHD management

The RACGP has welcomed recommendations for GPs to have a greater role in the diagnosis and management of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) made by a Senate inquiry into the condition.

The Senate’s Barriers to consistent, timely and best practice assessment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) inquiry report supported many of the RACGP’s recommendations, including for GPs to play a greater role in diagnosis and in management under a shared care model with other health professionals.

Long waits for specialists and high costs are a significant barrier for patients living with ADHD, particularly adult patients who do not have access to diagnosis via a paediatrician and patients outside major cities.

RACGP Vice President Bruce Willett said GPs are ready to take on a greater role in the diagnosis and management of ADHD.

“We welcome the Inquiry’s recommendations and support moves towards a nationally consistent approach that helps adults and children with ADHD, and symptoms of ADHD, access support via their GP and a coordinated team of health professionals,” he said.

“Many GPs are ready to help individuals and families who need support with ADHD in a shared care model with psychiatrists, paediatricians, and allied health professionals.”

Dr Willett said enabling GPs to improve early diagnosis and better support people living with the condition would have huge benefits for Australia.

“At the moment there are too many barriers to optimum treatment including challenges of getting appointments with specialists, the cost of these appointments, unclear referral pathways and a lack of coordination between different services,” Dr Willett said.

“ADHD costs the Australian economy more than $20 billion per annum, but earlier diagnosis and better access to treatments could not just reduce the impact on our patients, but also lead to substantial savings. That’s why funding for shared care models coordinated by GPs is so important. A team-based approach with GPs coordinating with psychiatrists, paediatricians, and allied health professionals will help patients get consistent, coordinated care.

“At the moment wait times for a diagnosis can be several months, and a diagnosis can cost a patient more than $700 for a telehealth diagnosis, though we have seen reports of people paying as much as $3000. GPs can alleviate that burden, and as this report recognises, the recently published ADHD clinical guidelines have given GPs a comprehensive, evidence-based resource to guide the diagnosis and management of ADHD and the Government should implement this framework into practice.

“The RACGP would also welcome reducing regulatory barriers so GPs with an interest in the area and appropriate training can continue and commence prescriptions for stimulant medicines for people living with ADHD.

“There is also scope for increasing rebates for longer consultations which are currently lower per minute for longer consultations which disadvantages people who require more time with their GP, including patients with ADHD. Increased investment in longer consultations is a simple way to build additional support for these patients.”

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