Eating disorder patients’ lives at risk due to long waits for NHS treatment

The lives of people seriously ill with eating disorders are being put at risk because they have to wait up to three years for NHS treatment.

Experts warn that specialist services are struggling to cope with a growing caseload and are so overstretched they have to prioritise patients with anorexia, because they are at greatest risk, ahead of those with bulimia – even though their condition is seriously affecting their lives.

Patients forced to endure long delays are at greater risk of serious damage to their health because it deteriorates while they are waiting. They also have a smaller chance of making a full recovery.

Some people wait so long they are forced to pay for help privately or get help abroad – in South Africa, the US and elsewhere – to tackle conditions that have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

Psychiatrists who treat people with eating disorders – often girls and young women – say NHS services are so inadequate that in some places patients who are very unwell have to lose more weight to qualify for treatment.

Full story at The Guardian 14 June 2015