Tuesday, 29 June 2021
Department of Health
Enhancement of specialist services for eating disorders, including improved access and shorter waiting lists, remains a key priority for me, Government as a whole and the HSE.
In response to the growth in cases presenting to mental health services, €5.7 million has been allocated for the Eating Disorders National Clinical Programme since 2016. The Eating Disorders Model of Care was launched in 2018 and was developed in partnership with the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland and BodyWhys, the national support group for people with eating disorders.
€1.77 million has been invested to date in eating disorder specialist posts, with 21.8 WTEs now in place. In addition, I secured the balance of 3.94M for 2021 and this will enable further investment in specialist posts throughout this year. More specifically, it will allow for the establishment of three new specialist eating disorder teams and the completion of the three existing specialist teams. Premises are already under development for the new community team at the Mount Carmel site, and is expected to be completed by the end 2021. Recruitment is progressing well for all teams.
The funding allocated to date has seen significant growth and improvement in our services. Despite the significant increase in referrals in 2020, there was a 43% increase in the number of eating disorder assessments completed, compared to 2019, with twice as many people starting treatment.
As of last year, there are three specialist eating disorder teams in place. This means that we can treat over 90% of people with eating disorders in the community, avoiding more serious inpatient treatment.
Specialist outpatient treatment has been found to be the most effective and fastest way for most people with eating disorders to recover. Although there is good evidence that inpatient psychiatric care is not required for most people with eating disorders, it is recognised that a small number of people, mainly with restrictive eating disorders, require inpatient care for short periods, for structured refeeding and/or stabilisation.
In circumstances where in-patient care is required, children and adolescents care is provided in one of the 4 Regional CAMHS Units across the country. Linn Dara (8) and Merlin Park (6) have dedicated a number of specialist eating disorder beds, and while there are no dedicated beds in the remaining two CAMHS units, all beds are available to eating disorder admissions. A further 8 beds are planned for an Eating Disorder Unit in the National Children’s Hospital.
For adults, people who require in-patient care are admitted to local general adult approved centres and attend generic inpatient treatment programmes. CHO6 has 3 dedicated beds for eating disorders based in St. Vincent’s University Hospital. The number of adult beds will increase, in line with the National Clinical Programme, including an additional 3 beds in St. Vincent's, 5 beds in north Dublin, 5 beds in Galway and 5 beds in Cork. Timeframes for new beds will have to be identified. These beds will be linked to eating disorder hubs. The funding available for 2021 will allow for the creation of two new adult eating disorder hubs in CHO4 and CHO9.
Importantly, with the right support and intervention, people can and do recover from eating disorders. The Government and the Department, along with the HSE and its partners, are committed to providing and expanding high-quality treatment and support for all those affected by eating disorders.