Region’s high ADHD prescription levels

The Andrew Lang Unit at Selkirk Health Centre.
The Andrew Lang Unit at Selkirk Health Centre.

The Scottish Borders has the highest number of children being prescribed medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Scotland.

Last year NHS Borders prescribed more than 210,000 defined daily doses (the assumed average dose per day, a recognised international unit of measurement of drug prescriptions) of ADHD medication, including drugs such as Ritalin, to under 19s.

Borders MP John Lamont, who has raised this issue before, said that parents will rightly be questioning why children in the region are far more likely to be prescribed medication for ADHD compared to anywhere else in Scotland.

Mr Lamont said: “Drug prescriptions clearly have their place in the treatment of ADHD and it is fair to say that the use of ADHD medications have increased across Scotland in recent years.

“However, it will concern parents to learn that the use of these drugs in the Scottish Borders is so much higher than the national average.

“I cannot see any justification for the Borders prescribing ADHD medication at a rate which is more than twice the national average, higher than any other health board and indeed nearly 15 times higher than some other areas.”

A spokesperson for NHS Borders responded: “NHS Borders’ Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) based at The Andrew Lang Unit is diagnosing and treating more children and young people with ADHD. As a consequence our prescription rates for these medications are above the national average.

“This is largely because we have a specialist multi-disciplinary neurodevelopment pathway in line with the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network guidance. Therefore we consider we perform well in this area picking up children and young people with ADHD and offering treatment at an early stage.

“National reviews of ADHD treatment across Scotland have previously identified Borders Health Board as providing one of the best services for children and young people with ADHD.

“The high referral, diagnosis and treatment rates are a result of good practice being employed.

“One aspect of this is the option of drug therapy for ADHD, which is very effective and has a large evidence base to support its use. We also encourage parents to attend evidence-based parenting groups and psychoeducation groups specifically on ADHD.

“Our treatment package can include social, psychological, behavioural and educational interventions or therapy as well as drug treatments.

“Children and young people referred to us receive a range of treatments and support for them and their families, and any child on medication is kept under regular review and medication will only continue if positive results are shown. Drug therapies are not seen as a solution in themselves, but as an important tool in helping these children to deal with their condition and give them the best start in life.”