Monday of this week marked the start of “Eating Disorder Awareness Week”, a national campaign to raise awareness of eating disorders, and to bring about long-term change, in the way eating disorders are perceived, and treated.   

With 1.25 million people living with eating disorders in the UK it is vital that we act now. Not only will this save lives, but through the correct treatment, preventing people hitting crisis point, it will also save the NHS money and resources.

The aim of the #DumpTheScales campaign, is to end the post code lottery in access to treatment and support for anyone diagnosed with an eating disorder. In order to achieve this, the government needs to commit to these pledges to ensure there are no more delays in access to treatment, and lives can be saved from early diagnosis and support:

  1. A recommitment to the enforcement of NICE Guidelines 1.2.8 which states “Do not use single measures such as BMI or duration of illness to determine whether to offer treatment for an Eating Disorder”. This will be rolled out through internal communications, blogs, webinars, press awareness and videos
  2. Support the roll out of the new #DumpTheScales Z-Card resource 
  3. Training for GPs on Eating Disorders
  4. To develop a meaningful way to measure/monitor implementation of the guidelines and an annual review of implementation.

I strongly believe that we should not wait for people to become seriously ill before providing the urgent help and support for their condition, but too often this is happening. Currently 50% of people with eating disorders go on to make a full recovery, with 30% improving, however a shocking 20% remain in a chronic condition. This statistic is shocking and emphasises the failure in provision of the proper treatment, after care and support.

On February 28th Hope Virgo launched alongside SWLSTG Hospital a Z Card. This card is a guidance resource for those with eating disorder, and for those supporting others with eating disorders.

The resource is full of really important information, it includes the early signs to spot, how to tackle the myths and stigmas of eating disorders, and acts as an education piece for staff on the frontline.

Some of the testimonies from people effected by eating disorders really highlight the failure of the current system in place to treat patients:

Daisy May, 21, Southampton/ Cumbria: Lived with anorexia from the age of 14. When Daisy turned 18 she attended one year at University and then had to drop out due to her eating disorder. In Cumbria the BMI Criteria is 13 on eating disorders and there are only 10 people recorded to have an eating disorder. Daisy was constantly turned away from support for not having a low enough BMI. Daisy ended up paying for private treatment in South Africa. 

Eating disorders need to be managed from a mental health approach, rather than a focus purely on weight. This emphasises the importance of patients accessing support early on, not when their condition reaches a critical stage.

I hope the Government can learn from the findings presented throughout national Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and the important recommendations from the #DumpTheScale campaign.

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