26 January 2023
Andrew Radford, Chief Executive at Beat, said:
"We are deeply disappointed to learn that the Government has abandoned its promise to publish a 10-year cross-Government Mental Health and Wellbeing Plan for England. This represents a deprioritisation of the nation’s mental health and a failure to recognise the importance of addressing the causes of mental illness, including eating disorders.
On Monday 23 January, Steve Barclay, the UK Health and Social Care Secretary, announced in the House of Commons that the Government would develop and publish a ‘Major conditions strategy’ that would include mental ill health alongside other groups of conditions including cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and dementia, setting out steps to provide more joined-up care. While providing integrated care for people with multiple conditions is essential, this should not come at the expense of an ambitious long-term plan to finally prioritise the mental health of the nation across Government, the NHS and beyond. We are concerned that mental health, and particularly eating disorders, are likely to be peripheral in such a broad strategy.
Last year Beat participated in several productive meetings with civil servants in the Department of Health and Social Care involved in drafting the proposed mental health plan. During these discussions we received positive feedback suggesting that it was set to include ambitious commitments around the treatment and prevention of eating disorders.
While many people affected by eating disorders were unable to quickly access NHS treatment before Covid-19, the pandemic has led to an unprecedented surge in those needing support, many of whom have already become severely ill. The Government’s failure to respond meaningfully to this significant challenge is short-sighted and ultimately putting lives at risk.
Although this is a frustrating setback, Beat will continue to fight for people with eating disorders and those who support them. We will continue to lobby Government, and work with MPs and peers across all parties, to demand that everyone affected by eating disorders can get timely access to the support they need. There’s never been a more important time to support our campaigning for change. Sign up to hear about opportunities to campaign with us and learn about the other work we are doing to end the pain and suffering caused by eating disorders. And, if you can, please consider donating to help support our campaigning."