“Adolescent Life not Anorexic World”: a call for national community ED intensive services
When my daughter was first diagnosed with an eating disorder back in 2013 I could not have imagined a more bleak and depressing journey than that which we were to face for the ensuing eight years. I could not have envisaged a more distressing scenario than the one which meant leaving my dangerously sick daughter in the hands of strangers and as far away as 300 miles from our home.
There is no doubt in my mind that the lack of continuity most notably between inpatient and outpatient services, in addition to a lack of consistency of treatment approaches, has had a detrimental effect on her recovery.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Services such as the Royal Free London CAMHS successfully treat most of their patients within the community as part of their Eating Disorder Intensive Service (EDIS). They have excellent outcomes in addition to being a cost effective approach. It is the heartbreaking reality that patients with anorexia are often turned away from services due to not having a low enough BMI, with the result that treatment occurs only at the point of entrenched poor physical and mental health, which is considerably more difficult to reverse. The Royal Free Service employs no such BMI cut off and intervenes at the earliest possible opportunity (referrals other than emergency or urgent are aimed to be seen within 4-6 weeks).
With a huge rise since 2020 in cases of children and young people diagnosed with an eating disorder, we desperately need investment in services that offer a flexible and empathic approach to treatment such as is offered at Royal Free London.
Anorexia and other eating disorders are fully treatable if there is prompt access to the right support and treatment.
Mental Health – Time for Action Foundation calls for Matt Hancock to visit the Royal Free London CAMHS Eating Disorder service and commit to ensuring all services move towards offering a similar treatment pathway within the community with the option of step-up good quality NHS inpatient care if needed.
Our aim must be to offer early intervention that is community based and allows young people to remain in ‘adolescent life not the anorexic world’ of inpatient wards.