Children receive urgent eating disorder treatment at Oxford Health Trust

NHS England figures show dozens of children received immediate treatment for eating disorders at Oxford Health last year.   

The institution reported 61 children had to be critically treated at Oxford Health NHS Foundation trust in 2021 which is up from 49 children in 2019.

The UK’s Eating Disorder Charity Beat has said the government and NHS England must ‘develop a fully-funded mental health recovery plan’ after the number of children waiting for help soared over the Covid-19 pandemic.

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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has produced guidance on how quickly people who have been referred with an eating disorder should be treated.   

NICE states 95% of referrals should be seen within one week, but only 41 out the 61 children met this threshold in 2021.

In 2020 46 of the 49 urgent referrals were seen within one week.

Throughout England, the number of children with an urgent eating disorder referral that were seen within a week dropped by 88% to 68% from 2020 to 2021.  

Through the same period, the number of children waiting for treatment has increased from 56 to 230.

Tom Quinn, Director of External Affairs at Beat said the rise in waiting times is ‘very concerning’, with children experiencing heightened anxiety during the pandemic and some reaching out for the first time.

He said: ‘NHS eating disorder treatment has increased dramatically since before coronavirus, and NHS services are not getting the funding or staffing that they need.’

The Department for Health and Social Care said it is ‘determined’ to provide mental health care to those with eating disorders and it will invest in services to treat an additional 3445,000 children and young people by 2024.

NHS England said the pandemic has had an impact on the nation’s mental health and an additional £2.3bn will be invested to help with treatment. 

Photo by Tugce Gungorm


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