An ambitious four week waiting time target for eating disorder treatment across child and adult services has been proposed by the Welsh Government, opening the prospect of huge improvements in early intervention for these serious mental illnesses. With rapid treatment much more likely to lead to fast and sustainable recovery these targets, if met, will make a huge difference to eating disorder sufferers in Wales.
The announcement by Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething, as part of a wide-ranging review of eating disorder services, has been welcomed by the UK eating disorder charity Beat, but the charity has called for accelerated implementation and full funding in order for the measures to have maximum benefit for those affected.
Among other proposals announced were a prioritisation of early detection of eating disorders and more input from patients and their families in the development of services. The Government now plans to invest around £700,000 into eating disorder services this year, in order to support health boards to deliver improvements.
Andrew Radford, Chief Executive of Beat said, ‘We welcome the announcement of extra provision for Welsh eating disorder services, but there are still questions remaining as to whether there will be enough extra funding to match the ambition.’
‘The review identifies a major postcode lottery in the provision and quality of treatment, and it is crucial that adequate provision for desperately needed frontline services is made.’
‘Families and parents are key to recovery; however, the review confirms that they are an under-used resource in Wales. It’s crucial that their potential to be an integral part of the strategy is fully recognised.’
The review, led by Dr Jacinta Tan, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist for the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, was developed with close engagement and input from patients and carers across the country.
Dr Jacinta Tan said, ‘The vision contained in the Welsh Eating Disorders Service Review was created together with patients and families and places them squarely at the heart of the model.
‘I am delighted that the Welsh Government has accepted its recommendations and look forward to the transformation of services in Wales, which will make us world leaders in eating disorder services.’
Bethan Sayed, Welsh Assembly Member and Chair of the Cross-Party Group on Eating Disorders said, ‘The progress made towards better eating disorder service provision is extremely encouraging, and I’d like to thank Dr Tan and her team for their tireless work on this crucial review.
However, we need to ensure that these changes are assigned viable funding, and that allocation of services are fairly distributed across Wales.’