The Times: Eating disorder patients left without specialist care as pandemic exacerbates funding shortfall
Dr Michelle Clifford, Chair of the College Eating Disorders special interest group and national clinical lead for the HSE programme for eating disorders, speaks with The Times about the lack of specialist support for people suffering from eating disorders, the “postcode lottery” involved in accessing care, and what proper funding for the service would mean for those trying to access care.
Read excerpts from the article below. You can read the article in full here (behind a paywall).
As reported by Times, “there are only three specialist beds in Ireland to treat adults with eating disorders. That statement was true 14 years ago, and it is still accurate today.”
Describing the situation as it stands, the piece explains that despite ‘continuous coverage, outrage and promises’ the hub and spoke model of community based eating disorder care has not been adequately resourced and as such, awaits roll-out nationally beyond the current two hubs in Cork/Kerry and Dublin/Kildare. Placing further emphasis on the importance of a stepped care model, as laid out in the national clinical programme, the article maintains that ‘inpatient beds are not the be-all and end-all, as it is now recognised that the best treatment for those suffering from eating disorders is to be diagnosed early and treated within the community. Exploring this further, Dr Clifford discusses the barriers to accessing care:
“We know what we need. We’ve done a lot of work in developing the plan for a stepped model of care…Unfortunately that hasn’t happened and we’re quite far behind. It is that old postcode lottery as to whether you can access the community teams, and these need to be rolled out to make the difference.”
Dr Clifford goes on to note that the stresses and restrictions of Covid-19 has put huge additional strain on those with eating disorders and the services providing specialist treatment for this vulnerable group:
“The experience on the ground is that demand has almost doubled in terms of what we are seeing,” she said. “Clinicians around the country are experiencing significant increases in eating disorder referrals, particularly into the acute system.”
National eating disorder advocacy group, Bodywhys as well as Mental Health Reform echo Dr Clifford’s sentiments, making clear that an increase of ring-fenced funding is desperately needed in order to provide care for an illness that will effect nearly 1800 people per year in Ireland.
For further reading, visit our previous post separating fact from fiction when it comes to eating disorders.
For support and guidance in relation to an eating disorder for you, a family member or a loved one, please contact:
Bodywhys: 1890 200 444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org (eating disorders)