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The role of General Practitioners in ADHD diagnosis and management

The role of General Practitioners in ADHD diagnosis and management

2. The role of the General Practitioner

It is very important that GPs understand their crucial role in the identification and management of ADHD.

Identification, referral and diagnosis:

GPs are gatekeepers to diagnosis and access to care. GPs are not responsible for diagnosing ADHD. Their responsibility is to pick up possible ADHD and refer on to an ADHD specialist. Without a GP referral, it is very difficult, and often impossible for patients to gain access to diagnosis and treatment services. It is also useful if GPs collect the necessary information for ADHD specialists such as questionnaires, school reports etc. This can facilitate and speed up the diagnosis process in secondary care, which is often very slow.


GPs are not responsible for initiating treatment, which is the role of secondary care specialists. However, in many cases, a shared care agreement can be put in place and once the individual with ADHD is happy with the right medication and dosage, the GP often takes over monthly prescriptions and routine monitoring. If the patient experiences any issues with medication, changes are however supervised by ADHD specialists.


To monitor ADHD medication, patients are advised to record the effectiveness and adverse effects. GPs should monitor cardiovascular effects but also effects on weight and height. Potential changes in sleep patterns, worsening behaviour or seizures should also be monitored.

The recently updated NICE guidelines give a comprehensive overview of the role of the GP and can be found in the toolkit at the end of this resource.

View the video of Dr. Corrie Smith, a GP diagnosed with ADHD in adulthood. Corrie explains the complexity of the role of the GP through her own experience of diagnosis.

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