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Found 82 results
  1. Content Article
    A growing number of patients with eating disorders are reporting having treatment withdrawn by services, often without notice and without their consent. We spoke to eating disorder campaigner Hope Virgo about how pressures on services, enduring stigma around eating disorders and dangerous new narratives are leading to the practice of treatment withdrawal. Hope explains how this is affecting vulnerable patients and highlights that as the number of people developing eating disorders increases, the risks to patient safety will only get worse.
  2. Content Article
    Disordered eating can affect anyone, but it can be confusing to understand and recognise it in our own personal experiences. This guide, published by East London NHS Foundation Trust, is a snapshot of how adults in East London have navigated those experiences of uncertainty while seeking support for disordered eating. For many of the contributors, preconceptions about what an eating disorder is (or isn’t) have previously acted as a barrier to seeking or receiving support. It also contains advice on how to seek support for disordered eating.
  3. News Article
    NHS teams are giving up on patients with severe eating disorders, sending them for care reserved for the dying rather than trying to treat them, a watchdog has warned the government. In a letter to minister Maria Caulfield, the parliamentary health service ombudsman Rob Behrens has hit out at the government and the NHS for failures in care for adults with eating disorders despite warnings first made by his office in 2017. The letter, seen by The Independent, urged the minister to act after Mr Behrens heard evidence that eating disorder patients deemed “too difficult to treat” are being offered palliative care instead of treatment to help them recover. The ombudsman first warned the government that “avoidable harm” was occurring and patients were being repeatedly failed by NHS systems in 2017, following an investigation into the death of Averil Hart. The 19-year-old died while under the care of adult eating disorder services in Norfolk and Cambridge. In 2021, following an inquest into her death and the deaths of four other women, a senior coroner for Cambridge, Sean Horstead, also sent warnings to the government about adult community eating disorder services. Read full story Source: The Independent, 27 March 2024
  4. News Article
    Health services for Londoners with eating disorders are struggling to cope with demand, a new report warns. Data from London's mental health trusts shows adult referrals have increased by 56% - from 3,000 to nearly 8,000 - in the last six years Child and adolescent referrals increased by 158%, from 1,400 to 4,000, in the same time period. The report has been compiled by the London Assembly's health committee. It has made 12 recommendations to London Mayor Sadiq Khan and City Hall officers, which include assessing other physical and mental health indicators as well as just patients' bodyweight as per their BMI. One consultant clinical psychologist told the committee that "almost all of the eating disorder services in London do not have the staffing levels available to safely provide the care required". Read full story Source: BBC News, 7 March 2024
  5. Content Article
    In June 2023, the London Assembly Health Committee launched an investigation into eating disorders in London, following reports that referrals for eating disorder services have increased in recent years and performance against waiting time standards dropped during the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of this investigation was to understand what is driving the increase in referrals, how services are responding to this additional demand and to explore people’s access to, experiences of, and outcomes from treatment services. The Committee held two formal meetings with expert guests, including clinicians, people with experience of living with an eating disorder, and representatives from the Greater London Authority and NHS England. It also held a private session with people with lived experience of being affected by an eating disorder and received 112 responses to its survey from those with experience of an eating disorder, supporting a family member or friend with an eating disorder or those working with those experiencing an eating disorder. 
  6. News Article
    Child and adolescent eating disorder services have never achieved NHS waiting time targets, and are not able to meet significant demand, according to analysis by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Psychiatrists can identify and address many of the root causes of eating disorders, including neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism and ADHD. However, a current lack of capacity prevents this from happening. Due to a lack of resources, even children who meet the threshold for specialist eating disorder services are often in physical and mental health crisis by the time they are seen. Delays in treatment cause children with eating disorders physical and mental harm. NHS England set a target for 95% of children and young people with an urgent eating disorder referral to be seen within a week, and for 95% of routine referrals to be seen within four weeks. These standards have not been achieved nationwide, since they were introduced in 2021. RCPsych analysis of the latest data shows that just 63.8% of children and young people needing urgent treatment from eating disorder services were seen within one week. Only 79.4% of children and young people with a routine referral were seen within four weeks. The College also warns that there is an unacceptable gap between the number of children being referred to specialist eating disorders services, and those being seen. This is driven by a shortfall in the number of trained therapists and eating disorders psychiatrists. For Eating Disorders Awareness Week, the Royal College of Psychiatrists is calling on Government and Integrated Care Boards to invest in targeted support for children and young people to reverse this eating disorders crisis. The call is backed by the UK’s eating disorder charity Beat. Read full story Source: Royal College of Psychiatrists, 29 February 2024 Further reading on the hub: For Eating Disorders Awareness Week, Patient Safety Learning has pulled together 10 useful resources shared on the hub to help healthcare professionals, friends and family support people with eating disorders.
  7. Content Article
    Eating Disorders Awareness Week takes place 26 February - 3 March 2024 Eating disorders are complex mental health conditions that affect an estimated 1.25 million people in the UK. There are many unhelpful myths about who eating disorders affect, what the symptoms are and how to support people in recovery. Alongside a current lack of appropriately trained staff and capacity in mental health services, this can make it challenging for people with eating disorders to access the help and support they need. Patient Safety Learning has pulled together ten useful resources shared on the hub to help healthcare professionals, friends and family support people with eating disorders. They include awareness-raising articles, practical tips for patients and their loved ones, and clinical guidance for primary, secondary and mental health providers.
  8. Content Article
    Avoidant/restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is a severe feeding and eating disorder marked by food avoidance and/or restricted food intake. Individuals with ARFID can restrict the amount of food eaten, and therefore do not get enough calories, or they can restrict the range of foods eaten and therefore do not get all the nutrients needed for maintaining health. ARFID differs from the generalised term “picky eating”. Many people may experience picky eating at some point in their lives. Individuals with ARFID experience severe health and psychological consequences resulting from their disordered eating, which is not the case for picky eating. Also, some individuals with ARFID are not picky about the types of foods they eat, but they limit the amount of food they eat due to low appetite or lack of interest in food. Referrals for ARFID are increasing, but health services lack an evidence base to support individuals with ARFID effectively
  9. Content Article
    To tackle the serious harms, up to and including death, associated with eating disorders it is crucial that more is done to identify them at the earliest stage possible so that the appropriate care and treatment can be provided. This new guidance by the Royal College of Psychiatrists is based on the advice and recommendations of an Expert Working Group. It provides a comprehensive overview of the latest evidence associated with eating disorders, including highlighting the importance and role of healthcare professionals from right across the spectrum recognising their responsibilities in this area.
  10. News Article
    The number of people in the UK who have avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (Arfid), in which those afflicted avoid many foods, has risen sevenfold in five years, figures show. The eating disorders charity Beat received 295 calls about Arfid in 2018 – comprising 2% of its 20,535 inquiries that year. However, it received 2,054 calls last year, which accounted for one in 10 of its 20,535 requests for help. Many were from children and young people or their parents. Andrew Radford, Beat’s chief executive, said: “It’s extremely worrying that there has been such a dramatic increase in those seeking support for Arfid, particularly as specialist care isn’t always readily available.” Patchy provision of NHS help meant many people were experiencing long delays before accessing support, he added. Eight in 10 eating disorder service providers did not state on their website whether or not they offered Arfid care, research by Beat found. “All too often we hear from people who have been unable to get treatment close to home or have faced waits of months or even years to get the help they need,” Radford said. Arfid is much less well-known than anorexia or bulimia. It is “an eating disorder that rarely gets the attention it deserves”. The sharp increase in cases should prompt NHS chiefs to end the postcode lottery in care for Arfid and ensure that every region of England had a team of staff fully trained to treat it, he added. “Unlike other eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, Arfid isn’t driven by feelings around [someone’s] weight or shape,” Radford said. “Instead, it might be due to having sensory issues around the texture or taste of certain foods, fear about eating due to distressing experiences with food, for example choking, or lack of interest in eating.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 26 February 2024
  11. Content Article
    In this Guardian opinion piece, John Harris looks at reports of people with severe eating disorders being discharged from NHS services in the East of England. He shares the stories of several patients who are desperate to recover from their eating disorders, but have been discharged from specialist services because they are not showing progress in recovery. The article looks at the growth of a narrative that suggests some patients should not be treated if their eating disorder has reached a very severe state and highlights the way that this may be affecting practice and posing a significant risk to patient safety.
  12. Content Article
    Sarah Rainey talks to Olivia Djouadi about her experience of type 1 diabetes with disordered eating (T1DE), which is thought to affect up to 40% of women and 15% of men with type 1 diabetes. People with T1DE, sometimes also called diabulimia, limit their insulin intake to control their weight, which can have life-threatening consequences. Olivia describes how the stress of living with type 1 contributed to her developing T1DE, and how when she finally received treatment and support in her 30s, she was able to deal with her disordered eating and see her health and wellbeing improve.
  13. News Article
    Children’s lives are being put at risk, charities warn, as waiting times for eating disorder services soar to record highs. The number of children waiting more than four months following an urgent referral for an eating disorder was more than seven times higher at the end of 2021-22 compared to the same period in the previous year. Data showed that at the end of quarter four of 2021-22, 94 children were waiting more than 12 weeks following an urgent referral, the highest on record, compared to just 13 at the end of 2020-21. The latest NHS data on waiting times for community eating disorder services for children also showed more than 1,900 children were waiting for treatment at the end of March. Of these, 24 were waiting to start urgent treatment - up from 130 last year. Sophie Corlett, director of external affairs at Mind, said: “Our government is shamefully failing children and young people with eating disorders at the time when they need help most. Eating disorders have one of the highest mortality rates of any mental health problem. Children in need of urgent NHS treatment for eating disorders should always be seen within one week yet some children are still waiting for treatment after twelve weeks. This is irresponsible and disgraceful.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 12 May 2022
  14. News Article
    A hospital for adults with eating disorders has been rated inadequate after inspectors found the provision of food was "unsafe and unacceptable". A Care Quality Commission (CQC) report of the Schoen Clinic in York said some patients were given mouldy bread and one was served food containing plastic. Concerns were also raised around lack of staff and patient safety, though wards were clean and well-equipped. Schoen Clinic Group said issues raised in the report "were quickly addressed". Following the inspection in January the hospital has been placed in special measures and will be visited again in six months. Brian Cranna, CQC's head of hospital inspection, said: "The standards of care we found at Schoen Clinic York were putting patients at risk and so we have taken urgent enforcement action, which means the service must improve if it's to retain its registration." According to the report patients were put at risk of "physical and psychological harm due to unsafe and unacceptable food provision". Read full story Source: BBC News, 21 April 2022
  15. News Article
    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
  16. News Article
    On average, UK medical students receive less than two hours of teaching on eating disorders throughout their entire medical degree. Even more concerningly, a fifth of medical schools do not include eating disorders at all in their teaching. Given that 1 in 50 people in the UK suffer from an eating disorder, and around 5% of the population will be affected at some point in their lifetime, this is something that needs to change. This week is Eating Disorders Awareness Week and Beat Eating Disorders are campaigning for UK medical schools to introduce comprehensive training on eating disorders to their programmes. Eating disorders are highly complex mental illnesses, but they are treatable. Just two hours of training is not enough time to equip medical students with the knowledge to identify the signs and symptoms and provide the necessary support to help sufferers access the most appropriate treatment at the earliest opportunity. Read more Source: Beat Eating Disorders
  17. News Article
    Millions of patients in England face dangerously long waits for mental health care unless ministers urgently draw up a recovery plan to tackle a “second pandemic” of depression, anxiety, psychosis and eating disorders, NHS leaders and doctors have warned. The Covid crisis has sparked a dramatic rise in the numbers of people experiencing mental health problems, with 1.6 million waiting for specialised treatment and another 8 million who cannot get on the waiting list but would benefit from support, the heads of the NHS Confederation and the Royal College of Psychiatrists have told the Guardian. In some parts of the country, specialist mental health services are so overwhelmed they are “bouncing back” even the most serious cases of patients at risk of suicide, self-harm and starvation to the GPs that referred them, prompting warnings from doctors that some patients will likely die as a result. “We are moving towards a new phase of needing to ‘live with’ coronavirus but for a worrying number of people, the virus is leaving a growing legacy of poor mental health that services are not equipped to deal with adequately at present,” said Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents the whole of the healthcare system in England. “With projections showing that 10 million people in England, including 1.5 million children and teenagers, will need new or additional support for their mental health over the next three to five years it is no wonder that health leaders have dubbed this the second pandemic. A national crisis of this scale deserves targeted and sustained attention from the government in the same way we have seen with the elective care backlog.” One family doctor in Hertfordshire, Dr David Turner, said he was so concerned about the situation that he had chosen to speak out publicly for the first time in his 25-year career. “I and many other GPs feel the issue has become critical and it is only a matter of time before a child dies,” he told the Guardian. Turner said access to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) was “never great pre-Covid” but was now “appalling”. The double whammy of a spike in demand and underinvestment in CAMHS was putting patients at risk, he added. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 21 February 2022
  18. News Article
    “So you’re just gonna leave me to die? That’s what you’re doing? Because I can’t do that, I’m telling you: I’ve been trying to do that, and I can’t. So now what?” Over a year on, Amy, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, is still waiting for an answer – and for the help she desperately needs. The 30-year-old, who has battled anorexia since she was 16 and has been admitted to hospital multiple times, was responding to her eating disorder psychiatrist telling her the service could no longer help her. Amy was told to try to get better on her own by upping her calorie intake, and was warned that she could only be referred to her GP for emergency help if her BMI dropped below 13. A healthy level is between 18 and 25. She is just one example of what experts fear is a growing number of patients who are being told they are “too thin” for care, as stretched NHS services attempt to “ration” the help they offer in an effort to manage demand. Amy complained to the NHS East of England commissioners about the decision by psychiatrists to withdraw her treatment. In a response seen by The Independent, the service treating Amy admitted the move was not conventional. “The decision to use this approach is not taken lightly, but is seen as positive risk management, intended to empower the person to meet their goals for recovery with the support of their GP, who will medically monitor their health, with a clear aim of [the service] ultimately engaging the person in active treatment following a period of self-recovery,” it said. Read full story Source: The Independent, 21 August 2023 Related reading on the hub: People with eating disorders should not face stigma in the health system and barriers to accessing support in 2022
  19. News Article
    Desperately ill people with eating disorders are being refused NHS treatment for “not being thin enough”, as new figures reveal the health service is in the grips of a growing eating disorder crisis. Shocking figures obtained by The Independent show at least 5,385 patients – the overwhelming majority, 3,896, of whom are children – were admitted to general wards for conditions such as anorexia and bulimia in 2021-22, more than double the number in 2017-18. It comes as separate analysis of NHS figures suggests the number of children being treated for eating disorders more than doubled from 5,240 in 2016-17 to 11,800 in 2022-23. Read full story Source: Independent 1 August 2023
  20. News Article
    The government must end “age discrimination” against eating disorder patients that is causing avoidable deaths, experts have warned. A cross-party parliamentary group and the Royal College of Psychiatrists are calling for access targets to make sure adults with eating disorders get treated within a set time. The demands come after the healthcare watchdog said patients were dying while waiting to be seen. Wera Hobhouse, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group, and Agnes Ayton, chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ eating disorder committee, said the targets must be equal to those for children, which were set in 2016. According to the Health Service Journal, 19 patients under the care of inpatient and community eating disorder services have died since 2017. A senior coroner in Norfolk also highlighted failings in 2019 and sent a warning to both NHS England and the Department for Health and Social Care, over the deaths of five young women. Read full story Source: The Independent, 1 March 2023 To support Eating Disorders Awareness Week, we have pulled together eight useful resources to help healthcare professionals, friends and family support people with eating disorders: Top picks: Eight resources on eating disorders
  21. News Article
    Over half of men with an eating disorder have never had any treatment, according to new research. Despite typically being linked with females, males account for a quarter of all eating disorder cases – and many are not getting any support, the eating disorder charity Beat is highlighting “Eating disorders affect 1.25 million people in the UK, and we estimate one in four of those are men,” says Tom Quinn, Beat’s director of external affairs – speaking to mark this year’s Eating Disorders Awareness Week (February 27 – March 5). “We surveyed men across the UK about their experiences of an eating disorder and, alarmingly, we discovered over half have never had treatment for their eating disorder, and one in three have never tried to get treatment in the first place. “There’s a harmful misconception that eating disorders are female illnesses, which creates a great deal of shame and can entrench harmful behaviours for men who are unwell,” Quinn adds. Read full story Source: The Independent, 27 February 2023 Further reading on the hub: Top picks: Eight resources on eating disorders
  22. News Article
    Urgent action is needed to prevent people dying from eating disorders, the parliamentary and health service ombudsman for England has warned, as he said those affected are being “repeatedly failed”. The NHS needs a “complete culture change” in how it approaches the condition, while ministers must make it a “key priority”, according to Rob Behrens. Little progress has been made since the publication of a devastating report by his office in 2017, which highlighted “serious failings” in eating disorder services, he said. Lives continue to be lost because of “the lack of parity between child and adult services”, and “poor coordination” between NHS staff involved in treating patients. There remain issues with the training of medical professionals, Behrens added. “We raised concerns six years ago in our ignoring the alarms report, so it’s extremely disappointing to see the same issues still occurring,” he said. “Small steps in improvements have been taken, but progress has been slow, and we need to see a much bigger shift in the way eating disorder services are delivered." Read full story Source: The Guardian, 27 February 2023
  23. News Article
    The author of a Parliamentary report into ‘failing’ eating disorder services in 2017 says the number of concerning deaths still being reported five years on is ‘very distressing’. In the five years since ombudsman Rob Behrens warned of major shortcomings around adult eating disorder services, HSJ has identified at least 19 women whose deaths sparked concerns from coroners about their care (see list below). At least 15 of these were deemed avoidable, and resulted in formal warnings being issued to mental health chiefs. Source: HSJ, 14 February 2023 Read full story
  24. News Article
    A record number of eating disorder patients are not getting the life-saving treatment they need due to lengthy waits, leaked NHS data shows. More than 8,000 adults are waiting to be seen for therapy, according to internal figures from NHS England – the highest figure recorded since data collection began in 2019. In March 2021, there were around 6,000 adults waiting, while it was less than 2,000 in March 2019. One leading doctor warned that delays were leading to avoidable deaths, while multiple coroners investigating the deaths of nine patients since 2021 have repeatedly called on the NHS and ministers to improve services to prevent more. An investigation by The Independent can also reveal that long waits have led to a woman, 24, taking her own life while waiting two years for appropriate care, and patients being admitted to hospital because their conditions became so severe they developed life-threatening physical conditions. Dr Agnes Ayton, the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ lead for adult eating disorders, said long waits meant patients were “dying avoidably” because under-resourced services were forced to turn them away or leave them waiting for years. Anorexia has the highest morality rate of any psychiatric disorder. “One important thing is eating disorders are treatable, people can get better with time and treatment. We shouldn’t accept anorexia has the highest mortality rate because a lot of these deaths are avoidable and treatable. We should be aiming to provide high-quality care,” she said. Read full story Source: The Independent, 6 February 2023 Further reading on the hub: People with eating disorders should not face stigma in the health system and barriers to accessing support in 2022 Eating disorders: challenges of the pandemic
  25. News Article
    The number of children in England needing treatment for serious mental health problems has risen by 39% in a year, official data shows. Experts say the pandemic, social inequality, austerity and online harm are all fuelling a crisis in which NHS mental health treatment referrals for under-18s have increased to more than 1.1m in 2021-22. In 2020-21 – the first year of the pandemic – the figure was 839,570, while in 2019-20 there were 850,741 referrals, according to analysis of official figures by the PA Media. The figures include children who are suicidal, self-harming, suffering serious depression or anxiety, and those with eating disorders. Dr Elaine Lockhart, chair of the child and adolescent psychiatry faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said the rise in referrals reflected a “whole range” of illnesses. She said “specialist services are needing to respond to the most urgent and the most unwell”, including young people suffering from psychosis, suicidal thoughts and severe anxiety disorder. Lockhart said targets for seeing children urgently with eating disorders were sliding “completely” and that more staff were needed. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 3 January 2023
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