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Petition Increase funding for eating disorder treatment in the community and inpatient

There is a national crisis within services for eating disorders. No inpatient beds, not enough community clinicians and a backlog of referrals for people in urgent need of support.

There needs to be an overhaul of services and an increase of inpatient facilities in both child and adult settings.

More details

Waiting lists for inpatient admissions are double that of last year and despite almost trebling since 2010, there has been no additional funding for specialist beds.

Early detection and treatment of EDs could save the NHS financially, from both avoidance of inpatient admission and from secondary health effects of the illness.

Government must -
Increase funding into community & inpatient services.
Increase ED training for all medical professionals.
Increase the number of inpatient ED beds.

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Government responded

This response was given on 5 May 2021

The Government is increasing funding into eating disorder services to address increased demand, working with arm-length bodies to ensure that people with eating disorders get the support they need.

Read the response in full

We recognise that eating disorder services are facing a sudden increased demand in referrals for children and young people's services. Eating disorders are serious, life-threatening conditions and NHS England and Improvement are working at pace to meet the challenge

This Government have set up the first waiting time standard for children and young people eating disorder services so that 95% of children with an eating disorder will receive treatment within one week for urgent cases and within four weeks for routine cases. Since 2016, extra funding (£30 million per year increased to £53 million from 2021/22) is going into children and young people's community eating disorder services every year, to continue to enhance the development of more than 70 new or improved community eating disorder teams covering the whole of the country, meaning more young people are getting the right support, at the right time, closer to home.

In addition, under the NHS Long Term Plan, by 2023/24, we will invest almost £1 billion extra in community mental health care for adults with severe mental illness, such as eating disorders. Local plans submitted to NHS England and Improvement indicate that at least 22 local areas are starting work to expand and transform their community eating disorder pathways for adults in line with published guidance in 2021/22, and all other areas are due to commence in 2022/23. A four-week waiting standard for adult community mental health services, including eating disorder services, is being piloted and considered as part of the clinically led review of NHS access standards. Further information on the definition of a potential standard will be shared in 2021/22.

To support the early intervention for eating disorders NHSEI funded an additional 18 sites across the country to implement the First Episode Rapid Early intervention for Eating Disorders (FREED) model. FREED is an evidence-based early-intervention model, for people aged 16-25, presenting with a first episode of eating disorders that has lasted for less than three years. The FREED model advocates treatment within 2-4 weeks and aims to contact patients within 48 hours of referral. Evidence shows that this model reduces the waiting times for assessment and treatment and that patients experience better outcomes.

We have also announced that in 2021/22 the NHS will receive around an additional £500 million, which will support people with a variety of mental health conditions, including eating disorders. As part of this £79 million of this extra funding will be used to significantly expand children’s mental health services, including allowing 2,000 more children and young people to access eating disorder services and growing the number of mental health support teams in schools and colleges from 59 to 400 by April 2023, supporting nearly 3 million children. This will allow teachers and health care professionals to detect early signs of eating disorders in children and young people.

In addition, £58 million will be invested to bring forward the expansion of integrated primary and secondary care for adults with severe mental illness, including eating disorders.

In relation to the training of medical professionals in eating disorders, we agree that doctors should have the necessary knowledge and experience to assess patients holistically, considering the individuals’ physical, social and psychological needs. The Department of Health and Social Care is working with NHS England and Improvement, Health Education England and other partners to procure eating disorder training courses that will improve understanding and identification of this condition and increase the capacity of the existing workforce to allow them to provide evidence-based treatment to more people. We are also investing £111 million from the extra £500 million for education and training to grow the mental health workforce and give more people the support they need.

Inpatient units are experiencing increasing pressures, particularly for eating disorder admissions. This is due to both the impact of COVID-19 and the impact on the workforce in terms of absence due to sickness or the need to self-isolate. To help alleviate some of these pressures in the short term, we have made additional funding available to support a number of schemes that aim to reduce the need for admission. We are enhancing capacity in community eating disorder services, including crisis care and intensive home treatment. Patients who require admission are supported with intensive community programmes while awaiting admission.

Department of Health and Social Care

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