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Shorter eating disorder waiting times welcome but room for service improvement


By Léa Legraien
Reporter
9 August 2018

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Shorter waiting times for treatments for eating disorders are positive but services still need to be improved, an eating disorder charity has said.

Beat’s chief executive Andrew Radford said that, while shorter waiting times for eating disorder treatments are welcome, children and young people are still facing a postcode lottery to receive timely treatment.

His comments come as NHS England today published provisional figures on how long children and young people waited to get treated for an eating disorder in the first quarter of 2018/19.

Key findings:

  • 81.2% of patients started routine treatment within four weeks, compared with 79.9% in Q4 2017/18.
  • 74.7% of patients began urgent treatment within one week, a 4.2% decline on the previous quarter.
  • The number of patients waiting for urgent treatment at the end of Q1 2018/19 was 45, of which 29 waited more than a week.
  • The number of patients waiting for routine treatment was 522. Of these 188 waited more than four weeks.

National variation

The statistics revealed variation across the country, with under 70% of urgent patients starting treatment within a week in the south east and south west, compared to 88% in London. Similarly, the proportion of routine cases seen within four weeks was 71% in the south east and 92% in the capital.

Mr Radford said: ‘While this [postcode lottery] is partly because some services are new and are still developing, the NHS must do more to ensure all local services have the resources to provide evidence-based treatment fast.

‘The Government has allocated an additional £30m per year to meeting waiting times targets, which is very welcome, but not all of this money is going where it is meant to. The funding should go to the frontline services where it is needed.’

According to NHS England, 95% of young people under 19 who were referred for assessment or treatment of an eating disorder should be treated within a week if the case is urgent and four weeks if it is deemed routine.

Lack of parity?

Research published by Beat last year showed that adults wait twice as long as children and young people before seeking and starting treatment.

Mr Radford said: […] ‘The Government ‘must introduce waiting times standards for adults too.

‘We know that the sooner someone gets treatment, the better their chances of recovery, so the Government must do more to ensure people are able to seek help fast.’

Healthcare Leader has contacted the Department of Health and Social Care for comment.

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