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More support needed for GPs to treat eating disorders

Two leading medical organisations have told the BBC that GPs are not getting the right support to treat eating disorders.

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the British Medical Association (BMA) say doctors need more time with patients and more specialist units.

Beat Eating Disorders asked nearly 1,700 people about their experience of trying to get a diagnosis from their GP. Over 92% asked thought their GP needed more training with eating disorders. Out of those questioned, 69% also said they felt their GP didn't know how to help them.

The survey has been released to coincide with Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

Jess Griffiths had an eating disorder between the ages of 11 and 21 and, now in full recovery, she works as a consultant to NHS England and with her local eating disorder service in Dorset.

She tells the BBC that when she first went to her GP to try to get help, she wasn't entirely transparent about what she was struggling with.

"I was presenting at a low weight and not having periods, so the GP put me on the pill, but I went there hoping he would ask me the questions [about a potential eating disorder]" she says.

"But it's really hard for people with eating disorders to - in a really pressurised situation with a doctor - say how they really feel."

Dr Richard Van Mellaerts is part of the BMA's GP committee and has told the BBC the results of the survey are "deeply saddening".

"People with eating disorders should never feel that GPs are a barrier to accessing care, so it is vital that medical education and training supports doctors to identify eating disorders and support their treatment," he says.

But he adds that there is "poor provision of specialist care", which has left GPs "frustrated up and down the country".

Read full story

Source: BBC News, 3 March 2022

Read hub blog from Dr Joanna Silver on the challenges the pandemic has brought to patients with eating disorders


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