Overview of the programme

This national innovation programme aims to improve how attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is diagnosed in children and young people. We are achieving this by supporting NHS mental health trusts and community paediatric services with innovation implementation. 

Specifically, the programme supports the implementation of an objective computer based assessment (QbTest) into their diagnosis pathways, alongside the practitioner’s clinical assessments. The technology helps inform clinical decisions by measuring the three core components of ADHD – attention, impulsivity, and activity. 

Once implemented, the QbTest gives clinicians a better understanding of a patient’s symptoms and potentially speeds up a diagnosis.

Summary of resources

Below, you will find information collated to help you learn more about this programme’s aims, impact, and wider context, including evidence and information to support your implementation. 

The resources have been selected for the benefit of health and care professionals. Some information links out to third party sources, and the Health Innovation Network is not responsible for the content on those sites.

Nurse smiling with patient


 Case studies 

  • AHSN Network case study – This case study shows the journey of the national Focus ADHD programme including impacts, outcomes and next steps for the programme. 
  • Reducing wait times with QbTest: Greenwich ADHD team case study – Based in the London Borough of Greenwich this team as part of the Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, reports on how implementing the QbTest innovation as part of their ADHD pathway has helped manage their waiting lists. 
  • West of England AHSN Focus ADHD case study – A Q&A style case study getting perspectives from a parent whose child has benefitted from the Focus ADHD programme and the ADHD nurse who undertook the assessment to achieve a diagnosis. 
  • North Staffordshire CAMHS Team case study – A team of nurses at North Staffordshire Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) share their journey and motivation for rethinking their ADHD care pathway.

Focus ADHD national programme evaluation report (2022) – The Institute of Mental Health undertook an independent evaluation into the roll out of the Focus ADHD programme and the use of QbTest. 

ADHD care in the East Midlands (2018) – A document co-produced by NIHR CLAHRC East Midlands and the East Midlands AHSN. It shares findings from the AQUA randomised controlled trial and demonstrator project. 

Transforming ADHD care across the East Midlands: An evaluation report (2018) – An evaluation of the East Midlands demonstrator programme providing evidence for sustainability and spread. 

The journal of child psychology and psychiatry (2018) – The impact of a computerised test of attention and activity (QbTest) on diagnostic decision making in children and young people.

We developed the following documents to support the implementation of the Focus ADHD programme. 

  • Implementation guide 
  • Baseline mapping guide 
  • FAQs 
  • Cost benefit analysis 
  • Budget impact model 
  • Business case template 

We can make these available at your request. Please use the contact form at the bottom of this page to access. 

Several key policy papers set the context for the work needed to deliver effective services for children and young people with ADHD: 

Future in Mind (2013) – Future in Mind is a government initiative aiming to transform the way child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) are delivered nationally.  75% of adults with mental health conditions experience symptoms before the age of 18, but reportedly as few as one-in-four children and young people in the UK are being reached that could be helped. Future in Mind is about the need to tackle this and create a system that brings together the potential of online resources, schools, social care, the NHS, the voluntary sector, parents and of course children and young people. 

The Five-Year Forward View for Mental Health (2016) – The Five-Year Forward View for Mental Health called for the recommendations made in the Future in Mind (2013) report to be implemented in full, including:  

  • Early intervention and quick access to good quality care are vital – especially for children and young people
  • Waiting times should be substantially reduced, significant inequalities in access should be addressed and support should be offered while people are waiting for care
  • Support for more children and young people to be able to access high-quality mental health care when they need it. This required a fundamental change in the way services are commissioned, emphasising prevention, early identification and evidence-based care. 

Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision: A Green Paper (2017) – This paper builds on Future in Mind and sets out an ambition to ensure that children and young people showing early signs of distress are always able to access the right help, in the right setting, when they need it. A key focus is to reduce the time it takes to get treatment from children and young people’s mental health services. 

NICE Guidance NG87: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: diagnosis and management (2018) – This NICE guideline (NG87) covers recognising, diagnosing and managing ADHD in children, young people and adults. It aims to improve recognition and diagnosis, as well as the quality of care and support for people with ADHD. A national working group has since been established to discuss implementation challenges and generate potential solutions to tackle unwarranted national variations in service delivery and delays in identification and diagnosis. 

The NHS Long Term Plan (2019) – The NHS Long Term Plan had focus on making sure everyone gets the best start in life, including related areas: 

  • Increasing funding for children and young people’s mental health 
  • Bringing down waiting times for autism assessments 
  • Providing the right care for children with a learning disability.

You may find useful resources on the following sites: 

ADHD Foundation: https://www.adhdfoundation.org.uk/ 

Qbtech: https://www.qbtech.com 

National enquiry

To find out more about any of our national programmes, please complete this form.

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