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Neurodevelopmental services

Advice on seeking neurodevelopmental assessments

Current waiting times for Autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) assessments are long.

Assessment requests are higher than our NHS neurodevelopmental teams can manage.

Because of this, parents, carers and concerned adults are looking at other options. This includes:

  • Paying for private (independent) assessments
  • Asking your GP for your Right To Choose a provider

A diagnosis can be important, but special educational needs (SEN) Support shouldn't depend on it. Support should be needs led rather than a diagnostic approach.

Find out how children with SEN are supported in Norfolk's education settings by:

All services must follow the same quality standards

In Norfolk and Waveney, there are many different services who can complete assessments:

  • Some only work for the NHS, paid for by the Integrated Care Board (ICB)
  • Private (independent) providers with an NHS contract. They help NHS services with their waiting times.
  • Others are private providers who do not have an NHS contract, but are still qualified

All professionals in these services must follow the same quality standards. This is regardless of whether they work privately or for the NHS. This is so assessments and any diagnosis looks at all reasons why your child might need support.

Read the guidance on quality standards. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) set these standards.

Before the assessment

If you are considering paying for a private assessment, it's important to ask questions about the service.

Whether you get your child assessed privately or by the NHS, professionals should: 

  • Have the right qualifications and training. They should be registered with a relevant regulatory body. Regulatory bodies set clinical and professional standards for medical and clinical professions/organisations. They can formally intervene if needed. They can also close practices and restrict or bar individuals from practice. To check if someone is qualified and registered with an appropriate regulatory body, you can check these websites:
  • See your child face-to-face, usually in their school. You should check that this will happen.
  • Complete the diagnostic process as part of a multi-disciplinary team. A multi-disciplinary team involves input from a range of qualified professionals. This is instead of a single practitioner who may have training in a variety of areas.
  • Consult with other professionals involved with your child, such as their teachers/SENCo 

It is also important to check:

  • Your child is screened for other conditions as part of the process
  • If the NHS has contracted the provider under Right to Choose, is it for the NHS' child/young person pathway or the adults pathway
  • The provider is registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). You can also read the report on their last inspection.
  • The provider is registered on Companies House 
  • How much the assessment will cost. You should expect all costs upfront and check you understand what these include.
  • Who will pay for any recommended medication prescriptions

After the assessment

After the assessment, you should receive a detailed report. It should:

  • Describe your child
  • Suggest what reasonable adjustments they might need
  • Explain how professionals can support them

It might also list local agencies who can help you. The report should be tailored to your child. 

When you have concerns

Most providers will deliver quality assessments and accurate diagnostic input. However, we strongly advise parents to follow this guidance. There could be a risk that where providers are not working in the right way, the assessment might not properly reflect your child. It could lead to the wrong support or adjustments.

A private diagnostic assessment might be used as part of an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) assessment. If the private assessment was not carried out correctly, it might not get considered in the EHCP assessment or in the final EHC plan.

If you are uncertain about the outcome or quality of the assessment, talk with the private provider within six weeks. Requests for a second opinion will mean joining the NHS waiting list in your local area.

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