This week the Eating Disorder charity B-eat released a shocking statistic which shows that there has been a massive 222% rise in those with an Eating Disorder being treated under section. To be treated under section, or to be ‘sectioned’, as it is commonly referred to means that a patient is considered to be mentally unwell, and vulnerable enough to be admitted to hospital, detained there and / or to be treated -in line with The Mental Health Act (1983) – even if this is against their wishes.
For a person with an Eating Disorder the treatment regime enforced under a section may begin with supervised meal-times, but if this is unsuccessful then force feeding, via a nasogastric / NG tube (inserted via the nasal passage and then down into the stomach) or in extreme cases a gastronomy / Mic-Key peg (a feed tube which is inserted directly into the stomach) can be utilised. These last two methods of providing the patient with nutrition and calorific content can be highly traumatic, however for some individuals it could be the difference between life and death and can therefore be a necessity in some circumstances.
This statistic uncovered in a study by Dr Richard Sly at the University of East Anglia highlights a growing concern in the care of those with Eating Disorders. As funding in mental health services has decreased the treatment available at Eating Disorder services has also decreased, and the referral criteria has tightened up. In the simplest of explanations this means that patients have to get sicker in order to be treated. It’s an awful reality, but it is true. This statistic therefore is not strictly one of worsening cases of Eating Disorders, but more it is the result of treatment not being offered in a timely and appropriate manner – and thus patients getting sicker before they are able to access services. This is an appalling truth since it has been known for many years that providing earlier treatment leads to a shorter duration of illness, better treatment outcomes and less long term related health issues.
You might remember that not that long ago that the Government pledged funding over the next 5 years to reduce the waiting times for children and adolescents with Eating Disorders – but the statistic mentioned here concerns adults with Eating Disorders, which surely demonstrates that we need to be doing more to improve care for them as well!
Are you shocked by this information? Got an opinion you want to share? Don’t forget to leave your thoughts, suggestions and / or experiences in the comments section!