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Significant developments in care in recent years, says Department of Health

By Victoria O'Hara

What the Department of Health said:

"There have been significant developments in eating disorder services for young people and adults across Northern Ireland in recent years.

"In line with the Bamford vision, eating disorder services are provided by specialist community-based teams in each Health & Social Care (HSC) Trust area. In addition to the health service provision, a number of voluntary and community groups also provide valuable support services. These teams include consultant psychiatrists, eating therapists and dieticians.

"In total there are now around 39 (whole time equivalent) funded specialist eating disorder practitioners across children's and adult services. This compares with a figure of less than one (wte) practitioner in 2005.

"Adult inpatient treatment is provided in each trust area in beds managed by specially trained medical and psychiatric staff, supported on an in-reach basis by staff from community based teams.

"Inpatient care for children and adolescents is usually provided at Beechcroft, the regional child and adolescent mental health inpatient unit, which has a consultant who specialises in the treatment of eating disorders. If the patient's condition is primarily physical, clinicians may decide the best place for treatment is an acute hospital setting, with in-reach support.

"If a patient requires intense specialist treatment for anorexia, trusts can access beds in England, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. Developments in local eating disorder services here have resulted in a significant reduction in the number of patients being sent outside of the region for treatment.

"A total of £2m per annum is allocated to specialist eating disorder services, and this has been the case since 2008/09. This figure does not include inpatient care or the cost of treatment provided outside Northern Ireland.

"The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority undertook a review of eating disorder services throughout Northern Ireland in 2014. This report is expected within the next few weeks and the department, the HSCB and trusts will work together to take any recommendations forward as appropriate."

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