Home Local news Improvements being made to eating disorder support in Wales

Improvements being made to eating disorder support in Wales

by Editor

In an effort to improve services, health board are bringing in the First Episode and Rapid Early Intervention in Eating Disorders (FREED) scheme in place – which is intended to support people in the early stages of an eating disorder.

In Gwent, the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board is putting in a new system through while telephone assessments are carried out the same day a referral is received. This, health experts say, can reduce waiting times for assessment and treatment to four weeks.

Meanwhile, the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board is piloting the Beat Synergy programme, which offers one-to-one and family support for under 18s with an emerging eating disorder, but who do not meet the diagnostic criteria for treatment.

Emma Hagerty, eating disorders clinical lead for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, said: “The need for leadership and coordination – alongside the necessary funds – has never been greater.

“We are passionate about early intervention and continually improving the services we offer, as our patients are at the heart of everything we do.

“As well as accepting referrals directly from GPs and being able to complete same-day telephone assessments, we also offer a Monday-Friday advice line for patients, the public and professionals.”

Eating disorder charity Beat says 1.25 million people in the UK suffer from an eating disorder. It has said it is particularly concerned by an apparent increase in the number of people reporting symptoms of Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, or ARFID. This is when people avoid certain foods or limit what they eat.

Beat said the number of calls to its helpline regarding ARFID rocketed from 295 in 2018, to more than 2,000 last year.

The charity’s chief executive Andrew Radford said: “It’s extremely worrying that there has been such a dramatic increase in those seeking support for ARFID, particularly as specialist care isn’t always readily available.

The Welsh Government’s deputy minister for mental health and wellbeing Lynne Neagle said: “Despite rising demand, all health boards in Wales are providing high-quality treatment for eating disorders for children, young people and adults.”

She added: “I expect to see our eating services continue to develop and improve. We know how important early intervention is in supporting people and I look forward to seeing these services progress and improve the lived experiences of people with eating disorders.”

Jo Whitfield, Beat’s National Lead for Wales said: “The quicker people can access the help they deserve, the better their chances of making a full recovery.

“But we know from the people we speak to on our helpline that it remains difficult to access eating disorder treatment across the country, and so the Welsh Government must act with even more urgency.”

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