Eating disorders are a serious health issue - Hamilton

Date published: 18 December 2015

Health Minister, Simon Hamilton, today welcomed the publication of the RQIA report on the review of eating disorder services in Northern Ireland commissioned by his Department.

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Commenting on the report the Minister said: "Eating disorders are a very serious health issue for many people in our community. One estimate states that between 18,000 and 20,000 individuals will be living with an eating disorder in Northern Ireland at any one time. The effects can be devastating for sufferers, and their families and friends.

“This report contains 11 recommendations, including the possible need for a feasibility study to determine if a more local specialist eating disorders unit should be developed.
“I have already taken steps to address this issue. Back in October I asked my officials to consider the evidence and engage with the relevant stakeholders to explore creating such a unit.”

The report also outlines the wide range of excellent work done by professionals in the Health and Social Care service and by voluntary organisations contracted by Trusts.

The Minister concluded: “My officials will work with the Health and Social Care Board and the Public Health Agency to agree and progress an action plan to implement the recommendations in the report.”

The report is available on the RQIA website.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Eating Disorder Services are currently provided in Northern Ireland through a stepped care approach which ranges from early detection and intervention, to community-based treatment, to specialist inpatient provision.
  2. Community-based Specialist Eating Disorder Services are now available across all 5 HSC Trusts (with Belfast Trust providing services for the South Eastern Trust) for both adults and children and young people.
  3. Since 2008/2009 the Health and Social Care Board has allocated £2m per year for specialist Eating Disorder Services. This figure does not include inpatient care or the cost of treatment for eating disorders provided outside of Northern Ireland (Extra Contractual Referrals).
  4. Since 2010 adult inpatient treatment for eating disorders has been provided in each Trust area. These beds (1-2 per Trust) are managed by specially trained medical/psychiatric staff, supported in an in-reach basis by staff from community based eating disorder teams. Under-18s who require inpatient treatment for an eating disorder are generally admitted to Beechcroft.
  5. Media queries to DHSSPS Information Office on 028 9052 0505, or out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5440 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

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