ADHD drugs handed out to Children in the Borders at twice the 'national average rate'

New figures show drug prescriptions for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in the Scottish Borders are the highest Scotland and more than twice the rate of the Scottish average.


Last year NHS Borders prescribed more than 210,000 “defined daily doses” of ADHD medication, including drugs such as Ritalin, to under 19s. A defined daily dose (DDD) is the assumed average dose per day and is a recognised international unit of measurement of drug prescriptions.


When this is worked out as a rate per 1,000 of the population, the Scottish Borders’ rate is 22.3 doses per 1,000, compared to the Western Isles figures of 1.5 per 1,000. Scotland wide the average is only 10.5 DDDs per 1,000.


While drug prescriptions have decreased slightly compared to 2016/17, when 211,000 daily doses were handed out, ADHD drug prescription rates have more than doubled in the borders in the last decade.


And most significantly, NHS Borders has a higher rate of ADHD prescriptions out of any of Scotland 14 health boards.


The same set of statistics show that prescription rates in the Scottish Borders for all other mental health drugs, including antidepressants and antipsychotics are in line with or below the national average.


Local MP John Lamont, who has raised this issue before has said that parents will rightly be questioning why children in the borders are far more likely to be prescribed medication for ADHD compared to anywhere else in Scotland.


John Lamont MSP said: “Drug prescriptions clearly have their place in the treatment of ADHD and it is fair to say that the use of ADHD medications have increased across Scotland in recent years.


“However, it will concern parents to learn that the use of these drugs in the Scottish Borders is so much higher than the national average.


“I cannot see any justification for the borders prescribing ADHD medication at a rate which is more than twice the national average, higher than any other health board and indeed nearly 15 times higher than some other areas.  


“I have raised this issue with NHS Borders before in the past, so it has been a long-term trend which shows no sign of changing.”


John added: "I am sure that healthcare professionals have their patients' best interests at heart but we cannot ignore statistics which show such a huge difference with the rest of Scotland.


“The fact remains that if you are a young person in the borders, you are far more likely than anywhere else in Scotland, to be given an ADHD drug prescription. I am concerned that this just encourages a culture where drugs are seen as the only treatment available by parents and young people.


“I would hope that this will be reviewed by NHS Borders as a matter of urgency.”


Figure 21: DDDs per 1,000 Population aged 0 to 19

ADHD prescription rates