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Fresh hope in Scotland for ailing anorexia victim Emma Young

Ailing Emma has spent nearly eight months in two Belfast hospitals making little progress

By Victoria O'Hara

The family of a desperately-ill woman battling an eating disorder have spoken of their relief that she will be moved to Scotland to receive what they hope will be life-saving treatment.

Emma Young (22), who weighed around five stone when first hospitalised, has now spent almost eight months in hospital.

Her parents and siblings - who feared she was being "left to die" - launched a campaign to have her transferred to another part of the UK with a specialist unit for eating disorders.

The Belfast Telegraph reported earlier this year that the west Belfast woman, who had battled anorexia for a decade, relapsed last December and was admitted to the Royal Victoria Hospital. Emma was then transferred to the Mater, but her condition did not improve and at one point seriously deteriorated.

In May, the Young family spoke about their fears that "time is running out".

They appealed to the Health Minister Simon Hamilton to assist in having Emma moved as she could not get the treatment she needed in Northern Ireland.

Her brother John said the family have now been told that Emma can be moved to Glasgow within a week to begin intensive specialist treatment.

"This is the news we have been waiting for," he said. "It is still a shame that Emma cannot get the treatment here and she has to leave Northern Ireland, potentially for months, but we know that this is what needs to happen to save her."

The 24-year-old added: "It does finally seem we have had a bit of progress for Emma."

"We were told the Health Minister Simon Hamilton was happy to meet with us and arrangements had to be made, but as we were getting that done it came to light that Emma could be moved to Scotland.

He added: "Initially she was apprehensive because it felt so far away and she was very anxious. But after taking the time to think about it she is really happy."

The family say that this is still "the beginning of the journey" towards Emma's recovery, adding that there still needs to be major improvements made to the treatment of patients battling eating disorders in Northern Ireland.

"It had felt that no one was listening to us," John said. "We would like to thank all the media for helping to shine a light on Emma's case - that support was pivotal in helping Emma and us."

But he added: "The system at the minute isn't working. Emma has been in care for about eight months now and is no further along with any recovery."

A total of £2m per year has been allocated to specialist eating disorder services since 2008-9. In 2013, 307 adults and 109 young people were treated and about 10 were sent to England for specialist treatment.

For help and support about eating disorders contact CARED by logging on to or calling 07999 901 936. Also visit

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