Scarborough boy's fight to get ADHD diagnosis he so desperately needs

The mum of a six-year-old boy from Scarborough has spoken about the impact that cuts to local NHS services have had on her son’s life.

By Martina Moscariello
Friday, 20th December 2019, 3:42 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th January 2020, 10:28 am

Leo Hurst has mental health difficulties and suspected ADHD, which often leads to emotional outbursts he’s unable to control.

After taking him to a paediatrician when he was four, his mum Rachel, of Heathcliff Gardens, was told Leo would have to wait until he turned six for an official diagnosis.

However, four weeks before Leo’s sixth birthday, a letter from Scarborough Hospital informed her that children and young people’s behavioural services had been cut and that her and her son’s wait had been for nothing.

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Rachel Hurst with her son Leo, six.

“It was so frustrating because we’d been waiting two years and we were getting so close. I had to go back to my GP and start the whole process all over again,” she said.

Leo’s case has since been referred to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services). After an initial telephone assessment, the six-year-old is now waiting for an appointment which will take place “some time in the next year”. The longer the wait, fears Rachel, 26, the longer Leo will have to go without the help he needs.

“It’s not just the diagnosis, it’s all the help that comes with it. St Peter’s School have been very supportive, in his first year they funded one-to-one support out of their own finances but they can’t afford to do it this year and without a diagnosis they can’t get funding.

“In the past eight weeks Leo has been excluded three times, he hit his teacher in the face, he’s kicking, taking his shoes off and throwing them at people ... the school have contacted so many different people in the education department but it’s like fighting a losing battle.”

And since the referral was put in in August the situation has got worse. Leo could spend an entire day at school but only be in class for two hours. At night, he could get as little as one hour of sleep.

“School are struggling and they can’t cope, I’m struggling and I can’t cope and it’s hard to admit that being his mum but it’s so demanding and it’s 24/7.”

Children and young people’s behavioural services at Scarborough Hospital were cut in May after York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which runs services at the hospital, decided it was no longer the appropriate provider.

A spokesperson for Scarborough and Ryedale CCG said Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust took over ADHD assessments and inherited “a significant caseload”.

“The Trust and CCG are working extremely hard to bring assessment waiting times down, but with demand on the service increasing, it’s not an overnight fix. Since the Trust took over this service, progress has certainly been made and we should reach our waiting time target next year.

“In the meantime, if any parents and carers are particularly worried, they should speak to their GP.”