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Working to improve eating disorder services


Picture shows Jonathan WellsGuest blog from Jonathan Wells, Director of Healthwatch Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Nationally and locally, mental health has been a key priority area for Healthwatch for a number of years.

Amongst all the mental health services locally, one area that is sometimes forgotten is that of eating disorders. These can affect children, young people, and adults, males and females, they can be devastating in their impact on individuals and their families and can even be fatal.

Problems can arise from the start, when people may not recognise that they have an eating disorder that is treatable, or stigma and rationing of services may combine to mean that it takes years to get the right help.

Locally, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) are the NHS provider of these services, with some small charities aiming to help those less severely ill. But we know services are under massive pressure.

For young people, the local inpatient unit Phoenix House closed this summer because of staff shortages, but we are pleased to say it opened again on 8 October.

Most of the young people accepted by CPFT for treatment for their eating disorder are seen within four weeks but the numbers accepted are quite small, ranging from 10 to 20 per month.

We don’t have equivalent figures for adults and their access to the specialist community team in CPFT, but we do know that:

  • Sometimes help can be slow to arrive.
  • Some people can end up getting support from the voluntary sector when they need more specialist treatment.
  • The move from young people’s to adult services can be uncertain and traumatic.

What we are doing to help

If you have a recent experience of these services, please do share it with us. We are working with the Sun Network and Rethink Carers Support to help feedback people’s experiences.

Together, we are really keen to hear more from people affected by eating disorders about their experiences, so that we can make sure services are improved in ways that make sense to those who need them. We will take out any information that could identify you when we do this.

You can tell us your story here online or contact our friendly team:

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