NHS England today released waiting time statistics for children and young people referred for treatment for eating disorders, showing an improvement in the how quickly routine cases are seen. But urgent cases were seen less quickly compared to the previous three months. There was also regional variation with some areas like London performing better than others like the South East Commissioning Region.
The figures are based on set by the Government the targets for seeing all “routine” cases for children and young people within four weeks by 2020-21, and all “urgent” cases within one week.
The statistics show the proportion of routine cases being seen within the target of four weeks has risen from 79.9% to 81.2% on the previous quarter, while the number of urgent cases being seen within targets has fallen from 78.9% to 74.7%.
Reacting to the figures, the UK eating disorder charity Beat’s Chief Executive Andrew Radford said,
“We welcome the indication that waiting times are getting shorter and that, nationally, services appear to be on track to meet targets for routine referrals by 2021.
“But there is still a postcode lottery when it comes to how long children and young people wait for treatment. While this is partly because some services are new and are still developing, the NHS must do more to ensure all local services have the resources to provide evidence-based treatment fast.
“The Government has allocated an additional £30 million per year to meeting waiting times targets, which is very welcome, but not all of this money is going where it is meant to. The funding should go to the frontline services where it is needed.
“These waiting times standards only apply to children and young people in England, but adults have to wait longer than young people at every stage before receiving treatment and the Government must introduce waiting times standards for adults, too.
“Waiting times standards help sufferers who have already been referred for treatment but it still takes nearly three years, on average, for someone to realise they have an eating disorder and visit a GP. We know that the sooner someone gets treatment, the better their chances of recovery, so the Government must do more to ensure people are able to seek help fast.”