Asking your GP for an ADHD Assessment

So you want to get your GP to refer you for an ADHD assessment? Read on to find out about how to prepare for an appointment with your GP and what to expect when you meet them.  This is part of a series of blogs on getting assessed for ADHD so check out the overview page for links to the other related posts

From deciding I wanted to pursue an ADHD assessment and writing “book GP appt” on my to do list it took about 3 monhts for me to actually phone the GP Surgery and book an appointment. There is a lot of emotional inertia here. Anxiety of the unknown and fear of being judged. What if it’s all in my head?

Fortunately I had friends and colleagues that helped me through it. Folks who shared their wisdom and tips. So I’ll share that here.

To prepare for my GP appointment I thought about why I wanted an assessment.  I’d been told it was a question that would come up and it did. I had researched ADHD assessment providers to find the one with the shortest waiting list.  I’d completed the check list that would be part of the referral.

It was easier than expected to get past the gatekeepers on reception.  I phoned them up and asked for an appointment. They asked if I was happy to do it on the phone (I was) and so a call was scheduled.

I hate phone calls.  I’m cool with video calls but I hate the phone.  But I was keen to get things progressing (after months of not making an appointment). Sometimes we just have to engage with the system as it is.

The GP asked why I thought I might have ADHD. I listed my symptoms. He asked if it was having a negative impact on my work, relationships and/or other aspects of my life. I explained how it did.  I was asked why I wanted an assessment so I shared my reasoning.  My GP was happy to refer me.  They did not know much about right to choose, or what the local wait times were but agreed to explore.

I was lucky with my GP since they were willing to refer me.  Others have not been so fortunate.  From speaking to others here is some of what I have learned.  If you are not a white middle-class bloke you’ll likely have to push harder for a referral.  Females face an especially tough time due to a male stereotype of ADHD – more so if they are of an inattentive presentation.

Your GP can’t tell you that you don’t have ADHD. To do that a formal assessment by a psychiatrist is needed. So if you presented ADHD like symptoms an assessment is the only way to confirm or rule this out.  If there is a mental health concern and counselling is recommended push for this to be in parallel with an assessment.  ADHD brains respond differently to neurotypical brains to counselling.  That’s not to say counselling doesn’t work – I found it massively beneficial, but it does not cure ADHD.

In extrimis you may need to get a second GP opinion. From a different GP in your surgery or more drastically by moving practices. 

Its is not always plane sailing when the GP refers.  The receiving organisation will only accept a referral if it is complete and on the correct forms. You will need to follow up with the surgery to ensure the referral is sent.  You will need to follow up with the receiving organisation to ensure the forms have been received and are being processed.  For some reason this is a brittle process and often breaks.  It took a few phone calls, over a period of about 12 weeks to get to the point where the forms were being processed.  Delays in sending, wrong templates, and incomplete info all contributed to this delay.

If the referral forms for your chosen provider contain a medical history section for your GP to fill in then keep a copy of this.  It will come in handy.

Once the referral is successfully received you will likely need to complete pre-assessment questionnaires.


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