ALMOST £800,000 was spent on drugs to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in Worcestershire last year, new figures have revealed.

The county’s spend on prescriptions for ‘psychostimulant’ drugs to treat the condition was among the highest in the whole country, prompting one watchdog to say people are being “chemically restrained” unnecessarily.

But commissioners and mental health staff have defended the cost.

They say there is “overwhelming evidence” supporting the use of methylphenidate drugs – such as Ritalin – in treating ADHD and that some of the more expensive drug treatments are supported in Worcestershire for the benefit of patients.

They also argue that variations in the way drugs are prescribed in different parts of the country have contributed to the county’s spending seeming higher than average.

Figures obtained from the NHS by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) show 14,682 packets of drugs were prescribed for the treatment of ADHD by the now-defunct Worcestershire Primary Care Trust in 2012, at a cost of £797,000.

That bill gave Worcestershire the 11th highest spend of 153 primary care trusts in England, which together spent more than £52 million on ADHD drugs.

CCHR spokesman Brian Daniels criticised the use of drugs to treat ADHD as THE standard of food dished out at Worcestershire Royal Hospital has been defended after claims from campaigners that hospitals are hiding patient dissatisfaction with the meals they serve.

Almost two-thirds of NHS hospital trusts in England – including Worcestershire Acute Trust – rate the quality of meals they serve to patients as “5/5”. But the Campaign for Better Hospital Food says that while bosses may believe they are serving up Michelinstyle dishes feedback from patients tells a different story.

It points out that in a survey of more than 64,000 patients carried out by the Care Quality Commission watchdog earlier this year just 55 per cent said the food they had been served was “good”.

In the past, NHS staff have carried out annual assessments of the quality of hospital food.

That is now changing and in future local people will go into hospitals to help carry out the assessments.

But campaigners say that is not enough and want mandatory standards introduced for hospital food, like those which already exist for prisons and schools.

Alex Jackson, co-ordinator of the Campaign for Better Hospital Food, said: “This would only involve extending an existing policy which has seen it set mandatory standards for prison food and food served in government departments, to go alongside those that already exist for school food. Surely patients have the same right to good food as government ministers, school kids and prisoners?”

Claire Austin, associate director of communications at Worcestershire Acute Trust, said: “The quality of our food is very important as food is a vital part of each patient’s recovery.”

Chief defends hospital food Experts hit back over child drug use claims NOISY PEACOCKS ARE WORSE: PAGE 15 “unscientific” and even compared the effects of some of the drugs being prescribed to cocaine.

“There are no tests and no results to confirm a socalled chemical imbalance of the brain,” he said.

“All that has happened is the person has been drugged, and is exhibiting the effects of a dangerous mind-altering foreign substance in his or her body.”

But a spokesman for Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust dismissed the comparison as ”entirely misleading”.

“The reality is, that if children are not correctly diagnosed and treated there is a significant impact on their quality of life and prospects into adulthood, compared with those who are correctly diagnosed and treated,”

he said.

“There is overwhelming evidence that the symptoms of ADHD improve substantially with the use of stimulant medication, but it should only be used after behavioural interventions have been tried and still in combination with those interventions.”

Meanwhile, Worcestershire’s three clinical commissioning groups, which have taken over responsibility for health spending from primary care trusts, defended the spend.

A spokesman said in Worcestershire prescription costs for “specialist community services”

such as mental health were linked to the primary care trust (PCT), whereas in many other areas it was only the cost of general practice prescriptions showed up on the PCT bill.

Have you or any of your family been prescribed drugs for ADHD? Are they a valuable treatment or an expensive waste of money? E-mail ta@ or call 01905 742282.