Looking for eating disorder support in your area? Visit HelpFinder

Beat urges implementation of new NICE standard on eating disorders treatment

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has today published new standards for assessment, treatment and care for people of all ages with eating disorders in England.

The Eating Disorder Quality Standard sets out six statements to define quality care for eating disorders, including statements on waiting times, recommended treatment methods, and coordination of care.

Statements on reducing waiting time and the coordination of care have been added to the previous draft Standard in response to feedback received during the consultation process. In addition, NICE also accepted the recommendations of a Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman report that recommended greater emphasis be put on the need to coordinate care across different services.

Welcoming the standards, Beat’s Director of External Affairs, Tom Quinn said, “These standards recognise the importance of ensuring early appropriate and coordinated treatment for all kinds of eating disorders and that is very encouraging.

“Failure to coordinate between services can put patients’ lives at risk and it is significant that the new standards recommend patient care plans and risk assessments to avoid this.

“However, lack of resources for frontline NHS eating disorder services means there is still a postcode lottery when it comes to access to and quality of treatment. The Government and NHS must improve medical training, ensure all local services have the resources to meet the new standards and that treatment is available for all kinds of eating disorder. The NICE standards state that people with binge eating disorder should receive appropriate treatment but in many services that is not the case.

“Likewise, treatment for adults must be improved to match the recent efforts to improve care for children and young people with eating disorders.”

Although the NICE standard states that children and young people referred to an eating disorder service should start assessment and treatment within four weeks, there are still no national waiting times targets for adults despite research showing adults wait longer at every stage for treatment.

One adult sufferer, Tom F, had to wait more than six weeks for a screening appointment after receiving a referral from his GP. When he did get an appointment, he said, “I felt as though my case was not taken seriously, which only served to confirm the embarrassment and shame I felt.

“At the end of the appointment, I was advised I would receive a letter outlining whether I would be eligible for further care and the next steps, but so far I have never received a response. That was in December 2015.

“I believe the lengthy waiting times and the lack of understanding in the NHS discourages sufferers from seeking help.”

Beat’s Tom Quinn added: “On average it takes nearly three and a half years for someone to get treatment for an eating disorder. We are calling on the Government to introduce waiting times targets for adults and ensure that everyone with these serious mental illnesses gets help early, when it will be most effective.”

Want to help us improve treatment for people with eating disorders? Take a look at our current campaigns on the issue here.