Eating disorder service in ‘very distressing’ state after 19 deaths

Ombudsman Rob Behrens, the author of a Parliamentary report into ‘failing’ eating disorder services in 2017, says the number of concerning deaths still being reported five years on is ‘very distressing’.

Five years ago Behrens warned of major shortcomings around adult eating disorder services, now HSJ has identified at least 19 women whose deaths sparked concerns from coroners about their care (see list below). At least 15 of these were deemed avoidable, and resulted in formal warnings being issued to mental health chiefs.

Coroners raised concerns about treatment delays, shortages of specialist beds and a lack of risk assessments and adequate monitoring. Severe gaps in training on eating disorders, from GPs to doctors in acute hospitals, were also highlighted in several cases.

In December 2017, Mr Behrens, the Parliamentary and health service ombudsman, warned of major gaps in training and provision for adult ED services, urging NHS England and government to conduct a review.

Full story in the HSJ, 14 February 2023